Single Girl’s Dinner Saver – Thai peanut chicken curry with coconut milk, plum tomatoes, and fresh basil
When I was a single girl in grad school I created this dish and made it often for my roommates. It’s the very first thing I cooked for my husband Sean before we got married, and to this day he still gets excited when I make it. There’s something comforting about nutty peanut chicken with silky curried coconut milk, flecks of ripe garlic, lush tomatoes, basil, and tender rice noodles. This is a great dinner saver idea for single girls (and single guys) everywhere! Even if you don’t cook that much or you’re just getting into cooking, it’s a great way to impress a date with home cooking from scratch. It’s easy to make, and you can find the ingredients in any grocery store. Even smaller corner stores now carry canned coconut milk and dried basil. Plus, if you’re on a budget, this dish is super affordable — the recipe yields 4 servings, and even if you opt for more expensive organic chicken breast and organic fresh basil, the whole dish will run you $20-$25 max. Not bad for dinner for 4 hungry people at $5 a head. Or for dinner and plenty of leftovers for 2 people. Tell someone else to bring the wine or dessert and you’re all set!
If you can’t find fresh basil or can’t afford it, don’t worry about it; as a poor student, I made this dish many times using only dried basil. Ideally, I prefer using both dried basil in the curry and then folding in slivers of fresh basil right before serving, as you can see from the photos. There are many varieties of Thai peanut sauce or Thai satay sauce available today. And finally, you can serve this over rice or any noodle you like. I prefer a thinner rice noodle, just see what’s available in your local store. You can always use angel hair pasta or a thinner spaghettini too. If you’re watching your calories, you can use reduced fat coconut milk and serve it over steamed brown rice.
The best part of all — it doesn’t have that restaurant take-out taste. It really is home cooking at its best. You can tell your friends that you make Thai food from scratch. Let me know how it works out for you!
Thai peanut chicken curry with coconut milk, plum tomatoes, and fresh basil
- 1 – 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (one package)
- 1/4 cup Thai-style peanut/satay sauce for marinating + 3 tablespoons later (if you buy a 10 oz bottle, the rest will keep in the fridge)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 13.5 oz. can coconut milk, well shaken
- 3 tablespoons peanut sauce (adjust to taste)
- 2 plum tomatoes, washed and diced
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, washed and sliced into thin ribbons
- Cut the raw chicken breast into bite-size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Coat with Thai peanut sauce and marinate in a glass bowl in the fridge overnight.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken in a few batches at a time, making sure there is enough space between the pieces. Stir constantly for 5-6 minutes (this is key to keeping the chicken moist). Remove to a glass bowl and let it cool. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge.
- Heat the other 1 tablespoon of oil in same skillet along with add red chilli flakes. Once the flakes begin to sizzle and move, add the onion and garlic. Add salt. Saute until onions are glassy and golden.
- Add curry powder and dried basil, mix well and cook on medium to medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add a well-shaken can of coconut milk and peanut sauce and mix to combine. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook through by continuing to simmer for another 5 min. Right before serving, add chicken pieces and simmer for 3 minutes. Adjust curry powder, salt, pepper, red chilli flakes, and peanut sauce to taste. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh basil leaves. Serve with thin vermicelli rice noodles (rice sticks) or over rice.