I paused to drool over this photo of Malaysian Curry Chicken, a creation of Bernie Lee, the owner of Hiro Asian Kitchen. He was serving the tempting dish that night in his trendy Washington Avenue restaurant. I looked at my watch. It was about 7 o’clock and the place is located some distance from me in downtown St. Louis. It was too late for me to make the trip. And, besides, I didn’t want to miss Rachel Maddow.
What Would Ina Do?
As I gazed hopefully into the refrig, I shifted into Ina mode. What would the culinary goddess do? The veggie bin was crammed with carrots, corn, potatoes, spinach, squash, peppers, garlic and onions in various stages of aging.
Hmm. . . with my assorted vegetables, a few spices, and a can of garbanzo beans, I could make my own curry dish in time to watch Rachel. But, doggone it, I had no chicken.
Not to be Deterred
Nonetheless, I soldiered on. I chopped up a soffritto (garlic, onion, and ginger) and got it whizzing nicely in the skillet. Then I browned the chopped veggies, spices (curry powder, turmeric, red pepper flakes) and a bit of burger leftover from the previous night. I added a splash of chicken stock and let things simmer along for 10 minutes or so.
Normally, I’d cream up such a mélange with some coconut milk, but I was without. Instead, I added a jolt of Vietnamese nuoc mam, which always stokes the umami flavor. Though not as creamy as I would have preferred, the dish smelled and tasted divine. I had a big spoon of it plated and ready to eat just in time for the broadcast. (These days, one needs comfort food while watching the evening news.)
My make-do “Clayton Curry Sans Chicken” (as I dubbed my creation) was quite good for a last minute concoction. Even so, I’m sure Bernie’s Malaysian Curry Chicken includes more exotic spices—and certainly some poultry parts. My inner-Ina tells me I should check out Bernie’s version the next time I’m at Hiro.