Rush Hour

In a month like March, Thai food reminds us that there's heat on the way. With its creative sauces and spicy flavors, Thai food can transform simple ingredients into a trip around the world. And while other cultures have recipes that list ingredients that are daunting, which a few convenience items you can have dinner on the table in minutes.

The two keys to this dish are having fresh vegetables on hand and mixing together an easy, yet delectable sauce. Since it's in season and at its best, asparagus finds its way into this dish. While asparagus is not traditional in Thai cuisine, choosing produce that's in season for your curries is in keeping with tradition. If you like extra heat in your food, you can choose a mild red chili pepper instead of sweet bell peppers. Avoid anything with too much heat since the red curry paste packs a considerable punch!

Speaking of which, you should be able to find Thai red curry paste in the ethnic foods section of many larger grocery stores. A little goes a long way, so if you like your food on the mild side, you might want to start with a mere teaspoon of the paste in the sauce. While you're looking for the paste in the grocery store, you might want to look for a can of coconut milk in the same place ... they are usually stocked together.

Serving this dish is as simple as spooning the curry and plenty of the sauce over hot cooked rice. It's great in bowls or served along chilled cucumbers dressed with a light vinegar-based dressing to help cut the heat. After that, it's time to enjoy!

Chicken & Asparagus Thai Curry

You can use shrimp instead of chicken in this dish by cooking the vegetables first and layering one pound of raw shrimp over the vegetables once they are crisp-tender and steaming them for about 5 minutes before adding the sauce.
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast -- cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch asparagus -- cleaned and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 c. chopped red pepper
  • 14 oz. unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. sliced green onions

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until lightly browned. Add the asparagus and red pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Meanwhile, mix together the coconut milk, red curry paste and salt. Add the mixture to the pan and heat until warm. Before serving, sprinkle with the green onions. Serve over hot cooked rice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes
As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!