The original recipe Gaeng Phet Gai Jee Juan แกงเผ็ดไก่จี่จ๋วน is a rather forgotten chicken curry dish that was first published in 1935 and has been added to the Thai cuisine repertoire after a king Rama V visit to Java in 1870. In this visit the king and his entourage have enjoyed Javanese Muslim food that had influences of Indian and Arabic cuisines.

This curry has some resemblance to Massaman curry with an array of dry spices such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and mace. The base of the curry is a red curry paste, augmented by dry spices as well as toasted ground coconut, that was possibly borrowed from the Indonesian and Malaysian practice of adding toasted coconut, known as ‘Kerisik’ which gives the dish wonderful nutty coconut depth and smell.

Two other unique ingredients are sugarcane juice and the juice of ‘Som Saa’ bitter orange sometimes called marmalade orange in the west. Fresh pineapple is yet another ingredient in this curry that adds sweet and slightly sour tastes.

I’ve used banana blossoms as a relatively starchy ingredient replacing the chicken in the original dish. Young Jackfruit may also work very well in this dish. Given the tropical origin of this curry, my preference would be to use vegetable of tropical origin and not starchy vegetables like potatoes that would be more acceptable in Massaman curry.

This curry should taste salty, sweet and subtly sour. The dry spices and roasted coconut impart wonderful warm flavors and the chunks of pineapple and mildly spicy banana chilies add wonderful fruitiness which makes this curry one of the testiest.

Ingredients

Center wok:

  • 1 Banana blossom
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut cream (to fry the curry paste)
  • 1-2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup of Jee Juan curry paste
  • 1 tbs palm sugar
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple slices
  • 1/2 cups cane sugar juice, freshly squeezed or canned
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 5-7 Banana chilies, de-seeded and halved
  • 1/2 cup of bitter orange juice (som saa) or a mix of 70% orange and 30% lime juice

Stock:

  • Water
  • Kelp (seaweed)
  • Dry shiitake mushrooms

Jee Juan curry paste:

  • 10 red dry de-seeded chilies soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 3 tbs thinly sliced lemongrass
  • 1 1/2 tbs chopped galangal
  • 2 tbs chopped shallot
  • 2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs coriander root
  • 2 tsp of roasted coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of toasted white pepper seeds
  • 3 cm roasted cinnamon stick
  • 1 roasted anise star
  • 1/4 roasted nutmeg
  • 1 piece roasted mace
  • 2 roasted clove buds
  • Organic fermented soy and rice paste (miso)
Method

1.Make a stock of kelp and dried shiitake mushrooms. The kelp and mushrooms add umami layers of flavor that further enhance the richness of the dish.

2.To prepare the banana blossom peel off outer crimson petals until you reach the lighter yellowish inner layers. Cut the banana blossom lengthwise once and cut again each half lengthwise to receive four equal wedges. Remove most but not all the stem by applying a diagonal cut to each of the wedged. Remove and discard the little embryonic bananas. Deep fry the banana blossom and set aside. You may also use the method I described in the curry Panang recipe or use green jackfruit.

3.Lightly dry roast the dry spices in a pan on low heat. Remove from the pan and let cool. Grind the spices in a dry mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder and set the ground mix aside.

4.Dry roast peanuts and set aside.

5.Chop the paste ingredients and pound them in a mortar and pestle, adding them one by one, until they turn into a fine and homogeneous paste. Add and incorporate the dry spices mix into the curry paste and set aside.

6.Add coconut cream to the center wok when it starts crackling add and fry the curry paste on medium heat for a few minutes. When the oil separates from the paste add a little bit of the stock and let the oil float atop. Gradually add thinner coconut milk and small quantities of the stock to keep the curry moist and not too thick and oily. Bring to a gentle boil.
Season with light soy and very little coconut sugar. Taste and adjust to reach a nice balance of salty and very lightly sweet taste.

7.Add the banana blossoms first and simmer for a few minutes. Add the yellow chilies and the pineapple and let the cook on low heat until they turn soft. Pour in the sugarcane juice or replace it with coconut water if you cannot get sugarcane. Add the roasted peanuts. Add the ‘Som Saa’ juice and stir it gently into the curry. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with white rice.

Recipe taken from thaifoodmaster.com

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