Monday, February 16, 2009

Indonesian Peanut Curry Chicken

Yesterday I had a tasting party amongst my foodie friends that are happy giving their unsolicited critique and turn it into good conversation. This was my first one. The menu consisted of ultimate peanut butter cookies done three ways, salted coconut caramels, molecular gastronomy chocolate mousse done 2 ways, and Indonesian peanut curry chicken. The tasting was a lot of fun with some great insight from my tasters. The worst feedback, as I told them, was "yeah, this is good." That feedback I find unacceptable; that is why I do not allow family to these events.

The Indonesian peanut curry is a dish I have been perfecting since last summer for entering a chicken cooking contest. The inspiration came from eating at incredible Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam. I loved the complexity and richness of the flavors and sauces and I want to recreate them in this dish. The dish still needs some tweaking. I am never satisfied with good recipes; they have to be mind-blowing and addictive. I never did hear anything from that cooking contest. That signified to me that it does need work.

What is important to this recipe is that it does capture the essence of an Indonesian peanut curry? I knew that the base had to be coconut milk and peanut butter. From there, the flavor portfolio had to be balanced and complex considering the herbs and spices in the region of the world. Garlic and ginger are a given, as well as lime juice and brown sugar. For the salty savoriness, fish sauce is critical. Then the heat needs to enter in here via chili sauce, black pepper, and red chilies. What else? At first I was thinking nutmeg, but now after peer feedback maybe some coriander in the curry and cilantro as garnish? And maybe add in more regional veggies for color like carrots and long beans (or green beans here) for distribution of the intensity of the curry? My next iteration my also replace the julienne chicken for broiled/fried tofu for a different complexity in the texture of the dish; this will also accommodate for my vegetarian taster. I am excited to evolve this dish more and hopefully morph it into what my intention is; recipe work is a labor of love and a good network of tasters!

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

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