Curried Noodles and Chicken with Coconut Milk

This is the best Asian recipe I have come across since starting my culinary relationship with the cuisine a few months ago. If you like yellow curry dishes, this is for you. It's sweet yet spicy and wonderfully aromatic. It is also sinfully fattening but you could probably use a lower fat coconut milk. Substituting store-bought curry paste will not yield the same delicious results in my experience; the homemade paste is worth the effort. This is slightly altered from the recipe in Basic Asian which calls for tofu, no chicken.

1 piece ginger (3/4 in. section), chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 stalks lemongrass
2 tsp sambal oelek
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin
8 oz. thin Chinese egg noodles
1 leek, root end and green parts removed
1/4 lb fresh oyster mushrooms (I don't make
the dish with these since Kyle doesn't eat them
so I don't know how they would effect the flavor
but you could probably use button shrooms no problem)
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
8 oz. cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
Oil for sauteing
1 2/3 cups canned coconut milk (= 1 can)
2-3 Tbs kecap manis (this is sweetened soy sauce;
heat 2-3 Tbs brown sugar with 2-3 Tbs soy sauce for a few
seconds in microwave to dissolve sugar as substitute)

1. Rinse lemongrass, trim ends, remove outer layer, chop coarsely and process along with ginger and garlic in food processor. Mix this paste with sambal oelek, turmeric, coriander, cumin and a good pinch of salt. You can make this ahead of time same day, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.

2. Cook noodles in boiling water for 3-5 min or until cooked through. Drain and rinse under cold water.

3. Slit leek open lengthwise and rinse thoroughly. Cut into 2-in lengths, then into narrow strips. Wipe off mushrooms with paper towels, discard stems and slice caps.

4. Place enough oil in the bottom of a hot pan (at med/med-high) to lightly coat bottom - around 1 tbs. - Saute seasoning paste mixture in pan for 2 minutes. Add leek, bell pepper and mushrooms; saute for 3-4 minutes. Pour in coconut milk and bring to a low boil. Stir in noodles and chicken; heat through. Add kecap manis and salt to taste, then serve.

Feeds 4.

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