I was flipping through my copy of the July 2010 issue of Food and Wine Magazine I had just received the other day and was inspired by this little snippet about how Laurent Gras of L20 uses a rice cooker to make this Ginger Chicken and Rice dish. I love using a rice cooker to make rice. As long as you follow the rice cooker's rice-to-water ratios, it comes out perfect every time. My version is inspired from his recipe.
For my version, I decided to use a bit of curry paste. Knowing that I am going to feed it to my kids, I was concerned about the spice level so I used a red curry paste, which is not as fiery as the green, and only used a teaspoon. After it was done, I could have definitely upped the amount of curry to 2 teaspoons. If I was making it for just myself, then a nice big tablespoon! So, it's up to you to determine how spicy you want it. I also added about a tablespoon of honey to balance the heat. I probably could have added another tablespoon as well to bring out a bit more of the sweetness of the coconut milk. But you have to show some restraint or it'll be way too sweet.
My version had cauliflower in it but I think a handful of frozen peas would have been great as well or in addition to the cauliflower. It would also keep it from being so monotone! I also chose to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs over boneless, skinless chicken breast. That's just personal preference. The dish turned out well and the kids ate it without any problem. They probably would have been able to handle more curry!
Traditionally, one should melt the thick, fatty, cream of the coconut milk in a pan and then fry the curry paste along with any additional aromatics to really bring out the flavors. In this instance, I went for convenience over maximum flavor potential. If you have the time, I highly recommend frying your curry paste in the coconut cream and then adding it all to the rice cooker, or you could even just cook it all in a pan. By no means, is owning a rice cooker a prerequisite.
COCONUT CURRY RICE WITH CHICKEN AND CAULIFLOWER
Ingredients: 1 cup jasmine rice, 1-13.6 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk, 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into small pieces, 1/2 head of cauliflower cut into florets, 1-2 tsp red curry paste, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1-inch piece of ginger, 1-2 Tb honey, juice of 1 lime, 1-2 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp kosher salt
- Cut up chicken into small, bite-size pieces and season with salt and set aside
- In the rice cooker, add 1 cup of jasmine rice
- Add the cauliflower florets
- Add the chicken
- Add the minced garlic and the whole piece of ginger
- In a large measuring cup, add the contents of the can of coconut milk and enough water to have a total of 2.5 cups of liquid
- Add the liquid to the cooker with rice
- Add the curry paste and stir until well incorporated
- Add the salt, honey, lime juice and fish sauce and stir to combine
- Close the cooker and press the button
- When the cooker is done, plate and garnish with optional chopped green onion or cilantro