This easy chicken coconut curry is outrageously delicious, comes together in less than 45 minutes and tastes like it's been simmering all day!
Although I'm calling this recipe Quick and Easy Chicken Coconut Curry, it tastes similar to a dish that Scott and I used to order frequently at a little take-out Malaysian restaurant near our home in Raleigh. It was called Chicken Rendang, and to say we ordered it frequently would be an understatement!
Often, after a busy day of creating, testing or photographing recipes, Scott would say, "I think it's a Rendang Night". Although I love to cook, it honestly didn't take much persuading for me to happily concur when it came to Rendang. We haven't been able to find anything like it since we moved away from Raleigh last summer and, up until now, I haven't been able to recreate the fabulous flavor of Chicken Rendang.
A delicious (and exciting) accident
To be honest, I wasn't even trying to recreate Chicken Rendang this time, but when I took the first taste of this Quick and Easy Chicken Coconut Curry, I was thrilled to discover that it has a similar flavor profile as our beloved Malaysian take-out dish. Woohoo!
The wonderful thing is that this recipe doesn't take any longer than it used to take us to call in an order of Chicken Rendang and run to a nearby shopping center to pick it up. Woohoo, x 2! I'm quite sure this Quick and Easy Chicken Coconut Curry is destined to become a frequent flier recipe here at The Café!
The inspiration for this recipe came from Bon Appétit, a dish called Chicken and Beans Stir-Fry with Miso Curry. It looked and sounded so good that I had to give it a try. I followed their directions the first time and, although the flavor was really good, the chicken was tough, there was very little sauce and the sauce had a wimpy, pale hue. I decided to take the things I liked from the Bon Appetit recipe and run with it.
The Bon Appétit recipe called for miso paste which is delicious and adds unique flavor but is difficult to find in an average grocery store. I like to share recipes that are not only easy to prepare but also ones that include easy-to-find ingredients. So the miso paste got scratched from the recipe.
The second time around, instead of miso, I added a little extra soy sauce and a few spoonfuls of red curry paste. Red curry paste is a wonderful flavor booster as it contains fresh red chiles, lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger) garlic, shallots, kaffir lime and spices.
I also decided to add some coconut milk and a splash of chicken broth to add another layer of flavor. And instead of stir-frying the chicken as the Bon Appétit recipe directs, I employed a favorite old Chinese trick for ensuring tender chicken called velveting. If you're a Café follower, you may already be familiar with this technique as I've used in numerous recipes including this 30-Minute Sticky Thai Chicken and this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry.
What is velveting?
If you've ever had super tender chicken at an Asian restaurant it may have gone through this marinating technique called velveting. Velveting sounds kind of fancy but it's actually quite simple; just combine an egg white with a few spoonfuls of rice vinegar and a scoop of cornstarch. Add the sliced chicken and let the mixture sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then cook as directed.
The results? Super tender, melt-in-your-mouth, "velvety" chicken! It doesn't change the flavor but simply breaks down the fibers and locks in the juices to create a tender, moist, super delicious texture!
Try this recipe! I have a feeling you might be saying fairly often, "I think it's an Easy Chicken Coconut Curry night"!
Café Tips for making this Quick and Easy Chicken Coconut Curry
- This recipe calls for red curry paste. As stated above, red curry paste is a wonderful combination of Thai-inspired ingredients and adds delicious flavor to this dish. I've tried several different brands and really like the Thai Kitchen brand, which is available at most grocery stores that have an Asian section.
- Red curry pastes do vary in heat intensity so if you're not using the Thai Kitchen brand you might want to start out with half of the amount. You can always taste the sauce after it simmers for 5 minutes and add more curry paste, but you can't take it away.
- This recipe calls for 1 cup of coconut milk. A can of coconut milk has right around 2 cups. What to do with the other cup? Once you try this recipe, I think you'll want to make it again! You can store coconut milk in the refrigerator for 5-7 days and it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- The green beans that are called for in this recipe are thin French-style green beans. These are sometimes called Haricot Verts. If you can't find the French-style beans, just use regular green beans (look for thinner ones) or even sugar snap peas or snow peas. If you use regular green beans, just sauté them a minute or two longer as they're thicker in diameter.
- I like to serve this coconut curry dish with jasmine rice, but it's also delicious with basmati or black rice (very pretty and dramatic!)
- If you're serving this Quick and Easy Chicken Coconut Curry to guests and want to prep ahead with minimal fuss at the end, here are the steps:
- Slice the chicken and store it in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the marinade for the chicken and store it in a small container in the refrigerator.
- Make the curry mixture, by combining the soy sauce, red curry paste, olive oil, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and turmeric. Cover and set aside. This mixture can sit out at room temp for a few hours.
- Thaw the peas and refrigerate.
- 25 minutes before serving time, marinate the chicken for 15 minutes. Then prepare the sauce as directed. Add the chicken and cover, then stir fry the beans and peas.
- Transfer to a pretty serving platter and you're good to go!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 1 egg white
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut width-wise into ¼-inch slices, about 3 medium-size chicken breasts
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
- 1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup coconut milk I use full fat
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas thawed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces thin French-style green beans also called (Haricots Verts)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup roasted salted cashews
- fresh basil leaves optional
Combine the egg white, rice vinegar, cornstarch and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium-size bowl. Add the sliced chicken and mix to coat all of the chicken with the egg white mixture. Set aside for 15 minutes while preparing the sauce.
Combine garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, curry paste, ginger, brown sugar and turmeric in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium-size sauté pan. Add the prepared curry-spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds until the color deepens a bit and the mixture is very fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the chicken and stir to separate the slices. Return the sauce to a full simmer, then cover and turn off the heat. Allow the chicken to sit, covered (don’t peek!), for 5 minutes while preparing the beans.
Place the thawed peas in a strainer and set aside to drain.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add the beans and cook, tossing often, until beans are bright green and just beginning to char in a few spots, about 2 minutes. Add the drained peas and cook for another 30 seconds, just until the peas are warmed through.
Transfer chicken and sauce to a large serving platter. Top with the vegetables.
Garnish with cashew halves and fresh basil leaves (if desired).
See Café Notes (above in post) for more detailed instructions and tips.
Inspired by Bon Appétit
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