Monday, June 8, 2015

Thai Steamed Curry Chicken / Hor Mok Kai

It’s such a beautiful sunny in LA today.  I guess summer has arrived even though its official date hasn’t started yet.  Walking around in my backyard in the sun checking out my persimmon tree full of the baby green persimmons gave me a feeling of recharged.  I just can’t wait till October when they all will be ready for picking.

But right now let’s talk about today’s dish.  Today I made hor mok kai or streamed chicken curry.  

This Thai dish, hor mok, is traditionally made with white fish meat that cooked and served in a cup made from banana leaves which lending the dish a lovely aroma, plus gives the dish an amazing presentation.  Personally, I love this dish but rarely make it at home.  I’ve got to blame on the process of making it.  From finding the banana leaves and trying to make it a cup that capable of holding the fish curry inside is just too imitated to me.  Truth is, I have learned how to use banana leaves in cooking from my mother when I was little, and the process of making banana cups for steamed fish curry was no exception.  Making a cup from banana leaves take a lot of practice to make it looks perfectly round if you are not a crafty person (+ lazy bones) like me.   It’s a shame just thinking about it!  Sorry mom!    Thanks to the ramekins that come in handy and useful for this purpose.  I just cut banana leaves in 2x4 inch rectangle pieces and laid two pieces of them down at the bottom of each ramekin just to get the aroma effect from it.  Easy, right?   But don’t be limited by what I am saying. If you are a crafty person, go ahead and make your own banana cups for the sake of authentic cooking!   If I have more time, I would absolutely make them in heartbeats.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, hor mok is traditionally made with fish.  These days, however, hor mok is made possible with mixed seafood which famously cook in a young coconut, salmon, and pork.  Honestly, I’ve never seen it’s made with chicken!  So I say, why not?    Now at the bottom of each cup you will add some vegetable such as cabbage or Thai basil leaves before filling the cup with the curry.  In my case, I used kale leaves since I had them available on hand which I blanched them first and squeezed out the excess water before distributed them in at the bottom of each cup.


When I told the hubby that I would be making hor mok for dinner, he was delighted!  Let’s eat! 

What you needfor 4 servings
1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup coconut cream, cold
3 tbsp. red curry paste
1 egg
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
7-8 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
A handful Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup kale leaves, chopped and blanched – or using cabbage
Some banana leaves – if available

For topping
Mix 1/4 cup coconut milk with 1 tbsp. rice flour or cornstarch and set aside.
Thai basil leaves
2 tbs. thinly sliced red chili or red bell pepper

1. Blanch the kale leaves for 5 minutes and squeeze out all the excess water, and set it aside.
2. prepare the ramekins by cutting banana leaves about 4 x 2 inches and lay then on the bottom of 4/10 oz. ramekins (see picture), and set aside.  *if banana leaves are not available skip this step.

3. In a large bowl, add ground chicken, red curry paste, egg, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, coconut milk, and then whisk to mix well for smooth texture.  Add kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and red bell pepper into the mixture and stir to combine.  

*some notes: the curry mixture has to be kept chill so all the ingredients adhere together. If the mixture is too warm, chill it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes before steaming.  
4. Add blanched kale leaves in the bottom of each ramekins about 1 or 2 tablespoons.

5. Fill each ramekins with curry chicken mixture.

6. Top a spoonful of the mixed coconut topping on each cup

7. Steam on high heat for 18-20 minutes. When they are cooked, garnish each cup with Thai basil leaves and red chili pepper slices.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

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