I was WAY out of familiar territory here, and now have a pot full of food sitting in the fridge I know no one will go near. I can’t even begin to pretend that this one has any redeeming qualities. Experiments sometimes lead to failure – and this one was a big failure.
This was inspired by a green chicken curry meal with coconut milk I had on vacation which was very good. I ordered it because it was something I would never order – I just wanted to try something different, and it was a wonderful mix of spicy and cool with citrus notes.
I wanted to try to come up with something using curry spices reminiscent of that vacation meal.
The ingredients were as follows:
- 10 chicken thighs
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Taste of Thai Red Curry Paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium eggplant, chopped into chunks, skin left on
This was all put in a large crockpot set to high for 4 hours.
Ominously, as the hours passed and the food began to give off a cooking fragrance, it was not a good fragrance. At hour 3 I gave it a stir. It didn’t look that good, either.
At hour 4 I had some of the broth. The taste had all these off-notes, like a person playing the piano just fine in some spots, but mashing the keyboard with his fists in others.
In times like this there’s nothing left to do but start pouring on the spices. First more salt. A dash of soy sauce. Another taste. Better. The salt brought out more of the good flavors, but these off notes were still there. And it didn’t smell good.
I tried adding a few tablespoons of lime juice, which brightened the flavor considerably. It was again still better, but it hadn’t graduated to good.
My wife came in and tried some. “What was this supposed to be?” She asked. Not a good question to hear about a new recipe…so it wasn’t just me. I told her that it was an experiment.
“You didn’t follow a recipe?”
“If you don’t follow a recipe, you’ll waste food.”
“Not true.” I said. “I’ve come up with a number of things that were pretty good.”
She snorted in mock incredulity. I did not try to defend myself further as the fragrance of the abomination I’d created filled the room and it would be hard to defend it with past remembered meals.
“Maybe the fresh cilantro would help. I got it for the dish.” I said. She tried some and said: “try it now.”
“Is it better?”
“You tell me.”
I gave it a taste and it was much improved. It had graduated to ‘edible’. She had some with rice and seemed to enjoy it – but then again she was hungry and it was the only prepared food around. (Not exactly true. The kid tried making muffins, but something went awry and the batter was viscous and climbed the mixer beaters like the thing in the movie ‘The Blob’ – and didn’t rise in the oven. Two failed recipes in one day.)
Despite it’s improvement, there was still a lingering aftertaste reminiscent of the smell. It was not pleasant. I had to wash my hands twice to get it off, and it still lingered in my mouth the next day.
I think it’s safe to say when you have a meal that makes you want to brush your teeth and wash your hands afterwards, you have failed.
After a project failure of any type, if you are going to learn anything from it, doing a post-mortem on the project is important. Here’s what I think.
- Although there are crock pot coconut milk red curry chicken recipes on the Internet if you search Google, that doesn’t mean that the crock pot is suitable for the dish. I think the crock pot is NOT the place to try this.
- Part of the reason why I think is the off-note in the dish was the coconut milk. Now, I like coconut milk, and sweetened a bit, have drunk the stuff straight, but I think the long cooking time damaged it, and ruined the dish.
- Curry and coconut milk are not part of my rudimentary cooking repertoire. An entire cuisine isn’t somehow replicated by a ham-fisted attempt to combine two primary ingredients and somehow expect I would be magically transported to Southeast Asia when I tasted the result. I need to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS on this one. At least at the beginning.
I still have a some of the red curry paste and coconut milk. I think I’ll take a different tack next time:
- If you go to A Taste of Thai website, there are a number of recipes and even videos. The fact that there are ‘videos’, in retrospect, should have clued me in that there might be an element of ‘challenge’ to use their ingredients to their best effect, and maybe I need to watch some.
- Wiser now, I can whip up the curry sauce in a separate saucepan and try pouring on to the meal – perhaps a better way to stat with ingredients I am unfamiliar with.
As to what will happen with this dish, it will probably crowd the fridge, a reminder of my failure for a week or so, then unceremoniously tossed in the trash.
Even if I had a dog, I’d hesitate feeding it to the poor beast – it might enter the territory of animal cruelty to do so.
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