When Tony and I lived in Georgia, we were about 20 minutes away from the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten. I’m not being insensitive when I say “Asian.” Ably Asian served Chinese, Thai, and Japanese, and I never had something there that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. In fact, I can thank them for my love of curry, Thai basil, and sushi. As much as we are enamored of the food scene in northwestern Michigan, we haven’t found a place that begins to rival our Jasper, GA favorite.
One of my favorite Thai dishes is Panang curry. It offers a complex array of spices in a lightly sweet coconut sauce. It’s what I got when we stopped at what I’m calling “The Thai Tent” (I’m sure it has a real name) in Maui, and it’s often what I get at Ably Asian – unless I get sushi or basil fried rice. Or…or… Anyway, I get it when I can. Inspired by those flavors and a suggestion by Tony to make a curry chicken salad, I decided to aim for a Panang curry-esque pulled chicken. I’m not a Thai food connoisseur, so I can’t say how authentic the flavors are, but what I can say is that this is pretty darn yummy. And since you don’t need rice to mop up all the sauce, you have some different serving options – like sweet Hawaiian rolls 🙂
If you don’t have all the spices in your cabinet already, you might check the “ethnic” aisles of your local grocery store. Our local Meijer stocks several curry pastes, and you could probably substitute a Panang curry paste instead of all the curry spices.
You can cook and pull whatever chicken you like for this recipe. My favorite way to do this is to boil the chicken thighs and then scoop them into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer. I don’t bother to add any seasonings, which not glamorous, but when you see the spice list, you’ll understand why I skip it. Now here’s the magic: using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low and walk away. Let it run for a few minutes. When you come back, it will be perfectly, finely shredded chicken. Easy-peasy.
12 Hawaiian Rolls
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooked and shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely diced
1 can full fat coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen, found with the Indian foods)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 cup sweet red chili sauce (I used Thai Kitchen)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon plain curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1/4 teaspoon bay leaf powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper powder (feel free to use more – these are not hot with this amount)
Saute onion and pepper in a large pan (I use olive oil) over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.
Pour coconut milk into pan, stirring until it all melts together.
Grind peanuts in food processor until you have coarse peanut crumbs.
Drain tomatoes and then chop in food processor.
Add tomatoes, peanuts, and all other spices to the onion/pepper/coconut mixture. Stir in chicken, turn heat to low, and then cover.
Let mixture cook over low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Slice open rolls, add chicken, and serve.