Red Pepper, Chicken and Bok Choy in Coconut-Red Curry Sauce

Coconut milk, red curry paste and bell peppers have a rich, velvety flavor combination. This is a delicious and quick recipe, perfect for busy weeknights. In fact, its so simple that I feel almost silly posting it. So just think of this as a recipe “idea”.

Story

I’ve made both red curry paste and green paste from scratch before. I highly encourage you to use fresh, homemade green curry, when you can (I’ll post a recipe soon). On the other hand, I don’t feel that the hassle of dealing with so many red chile peppers (and the possibility of getting chile oil in your eye or somewhere else annoying) is really worth all the effort. Store-bought red curry paste is already so good (if you get the right brands) and serves as a quick way to dress up any stir fry. The brands I get are not too spicy, (Thai Kitchen and Thai Taste) so if you like it native Thai, you can always add extra red chile pepper flakes at the end, or even more paste in the beginning of the recipe. If you choose another brand of red curry paste, as always double check that all the ingredients are safe for you. For a kid-friendly version of this dish, I stir fry all the components first, plate up portions for my children, then add the other portions back into the sauce to heat through at the end. You can easily replace the chicken with any other protein (beef strips are nice) and the vegetables with other vegetables (baby carrots and sno peas), so if you keep your kitchen stocked with rice, coconut milk and red curry paste, this is a great last minute meal that can work with pretty much whatever protein and produce you have on hand.

Ingredients

1 pound of chicken breast tenders
2 small heads or one large head of baby bok choy
1 medium red bell pepper,seeded and sliced in 1/4 inch thick strips
2 Tablespoons of gluten-free (soy-free) red curry paste
1 14 ounce can of coconut milk (not light!)
canola oil
fish sauce to taste – a teaspoon or so (optional)
brown sugar or other sweetener to taste a teaspoon or so (optional)

Instructions

Seed the pepper and slice into 1/4 thick strips. Wash the bok choy thoroughly. Cut the stems into 1/8 inch thick strips. Chop the leaves.

Pour enough canola oil to coat the wok, and heat on medium high. (If you don’t have a wok, an ordinary frying pan will work just fine). When the oil is hot enough (sizzles when you splash a drop of water in), add the chicken and stir fry until browned on the outside and just cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the bell pepper and bok choi stems to the wok. Stir fry until just tender, only a couple of minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. If you’re children aren’t ready to experiment with spicy sauces yet, you can plate up their dishes now, with rice on the side. I also put a little plain coconut milk on the plate as their “sauce”, and they love it.

Return to the empty wok and place a little more oil, if needed. Add the red curry paste and stir fry until fragrant, a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and brown sugar (if using) to the pan and simmer on medium heat for about five minutes. I’ve forgotten to throw in the fish sauce and brown sugar a couple of times and the dish still tastes great. But adding just the right amount of saltiness and sweetness (not too much) really makes the flavors pop.

Return the cooked ingredients to the wok, as well as the bok choi leaves, and cook until the leaves have wilted and the chicken has heated through. Serve with jasmine rice or rice noodles.