Do you have a fallback recipe? One that you go back to time and time again like the ex-boyfriend you just can’t shake? One you can cook on auto-pilot and whip up with your eyes shut? I have a love-hate relationship with my fallback recipes – cooking them fills me with equal measures of comfort and guilt. “I should be more creative. I should try something new,” I say to myself as I whip them up for the 100th time.
I’ve had a few fallback recipes in my time – chicken stir-fry, chilli con carne, spag bol, Thai red or green chicken curry. Truth be told, Thai red curry is the most frequent offender. I’ve been cooking it for years in various guises. It usually makes an appearance mid-week when all inspiration is lost and I just don’t feel like bringing out the big culinary guns.
You can imagine my delight at being sent trial packs of Marion’s Kitchen Thai curry kits to review. Remember Marion Grasby from Masterchef season two? She was the amazing cook who looked likely to win the show before she was ousted in a shock elimination. I remember being positively gutted at the time.
Since leaving Masterchef, Marion has developed her own food range. Aptly named Marion’s Kitchen, the range covers five popular Thai dishes all nicely packaged in colourful boxes with step-by-step instructions. Think of it as Thai for beginners. It’s hard to stuff this up… even if you try!
For Thai lovers like me, it’s a great mid-week meal option if you feel too virtuous to order takeaway but don’t feel like cooking up a storm. On my maiden voyage into Marion’s Kitchen I cooked one of my fallback recipes – Thai red chicken curry. All I needed to add was 400g chicken (I added more like 600g) and 1 cup of vegies. Marion kindly supplies the rest, so all up it costs around $20 for a meal for four people.
The ingredients list is refreshingly devoid of additives, and I love the inclusion of a dried spices pack to add some extra punch to the curry. Marion suggests crushing the dried chillies if you want extra heat.
Step one: heat oil over medium heat and fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes until it starts to smell beautiful. This allows the fresh ingredients in the paste to release their flavour and aroma.
Step two: pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. You can tell the quality of a coconut milk simply by looking at it. If it’s rich and creamy like this one, you know it’s good. There’s one step missing on the instructions at this point. You need to bring the coconut milk and water to a gentle simmer before the next step.
Step three: this is my favourite step. Add the fragrant dried herbs and fish sauce. The herbs come in a sachet and contain dried basil, dried kaffir lime leaves and dried chilli. For more spice, Marion recommends chopping up the dried chillies before you add them. For less spice, don’t use any dried chillies and add an extra 1/2 cup water. Wait for the curry to start simmering again.
Step four: add the drained bamboo shoots and raw meat. Marion recommends adding the vegies at this point, but I holded off adding mine until the chicken was mostly cooked as I didn’t want them to overcook. The timing depends on the type of vegies you’re cooking. Pumpkin and eggplant will take longer than green beans and zucchini, for example. Then, simmer until the curry is cooked and serve with rice.
So, what’s the verdict? The red chicken curry gets my thumbs up. It’s full of flavour and rich in colour and makes for a great mid-week meal.
Also available in the Marion’s Kitchen range are Thai green curry, Thai basil and chilli stir-fry, Thai fish cakes and Thai satay sticks. Available from IGA, Woolworths, Foodland, Franklins, Drakes, Kemmenys and other retailers. RRP $6.99.