The challenge: make a dish in the shades of your spatula. The options were: red, yellow, purple, green, and red. Which one would you want?
As I mentioned in my Episode 2 recap, I was pretty happy with yellow. You can go sweet: mango, pineapple, oranges. You can go savory: curry, turmeric, spaghetti squash, corn, yellow squash, endives…
In the end, my teammate Adam and I chose to go savory and made a chicken meatball in a coconut curry with crunchy spaghetti squash and pickled corn. What I love about this dish is the different textures. Oftentimes, curries or stews suffer from sameness syndrome -- an unexciting monotony because everything kind of blends into each other. We tried to avoid that, building flavors and textures from top to bottom, including an al dente spaghetti squash, a creamy curry with bell peppers, a pillowy flavor-packed chicken meatball, bright and fresh pickled corn, and toasty coconut.
I’ve slightly adapted the recipe from what we did during the competition, and made it more suitable for a single person to cook in a home kitchen. For example, here the meatballs are smaller and simmered in the curry, rather than pressure cooked. On the show, I used a method of blanching, salting and squeezing the spaghetti squash (described here), but that’s a bit labor intensive with all the other components so I left that out here.
Also, since this was a team challenge, I’m not exactly sure what Adam did. So… I filled in the blanks with what I know and love.
Yellow Chicken Curry with Spaghetti Squash
1 2-lb spaghetti squash
1-inch knob of ginger
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
2 yellow bell peppers
1 lemongrass stalk
1 can coconut milk (reduced fat or full, whatever your preference)
2 oz yellow curry paste
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp dried chopped onion
1 tsp black pepper
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 ears of corn
½ tsp grated ginger
¼ cup grated coconut
Slice the spaghetti squash and remove all the seeds. Microwave for 15 minutes.
Prepare your curry ingredients. Mince the garlic and ginger and dice the onions and bell peppers. Heat a large pot to medium-high and add olive oil. Add all the ingredients and season with salt. Sweat until onions are semi-translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and curry paste. Slice lemongrass into three large pieces and add to pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
To make meatballs, mix all ingredients until just incorporated. Do not overmix or else the meatballs will be too dense. After the curry has simmered, make small, loosely-packed meatballs and gently place them into the curry. Simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes.
To make the pickled corn, add the water, white vinegar, sugar and salt to a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high until sugar and salt have dissolved. Take off heat. Slice the corn kernels off the corn and add to pickling brine. Add grated ginger. Let sit for at least 10 minutes -- the more time, the better!
Toast the coconut in the oven using the broiler, or use the toast setting on your toaster oven. Remove when golden brown.
Scrape the strands out of the spaghetti squash. The interior strands should still be crisp, like biting an apple. Remove the lemongrass from the curry. Place the spaghetti squash on the bottom of the plate, then add curry and meatballs, pickled corn, and toasted coconut.
We got some flack for our plating, so if you have a better presentation idea, let me know :P.
TIPS & TRICKS
Don’t worry about browning the meat or onions. The curry has so much flavor, that it would overpower any browning flavors anyway. Plus, brown would ruin the yellow look!
The microwave can be your friend! I love it for vegetables because it heats the existing water in the plant -- unlike steaming or blanching which *adds* water, resulting in a potentially waterlogged or diluted end-product.
I’m a fan of adding chopped dried onions into my meatballs. They act like bread crumbs -- absorbing the meat juices, adding texture and lightness -- but also bring a lot of flavor.