Without a doubt, there are many subjects that my mother-in-law and I don’t see eye to eye on. Luckily, our mutual love of cooking is what usually leads us back to friendlier, more lighthearted territory. Just when our conversations start heating up, I default to asking her about which recipes she’s been working on or meaning to try. She’s a talented and passionate cook, so this method of diversion works every time, and my hubby (who’s breathing a huge sigh of relief at this point) fully encourages it.
One of the specialties that my mother-in-law is well-known for are Chicken Curry Puffs, a spicy baked dim sum treat. My husband grew up on these, and they are hands down his favorite food. Anytime he realizes that there’s a tray of these flavorful puff pastry pockets coming out of the oven, my usually reserved hubby instantly becomes unabashedly greedy, like a grabby little kid.
The most common places to find Chinese-style curry puffs are dim sum restaurants and bakeries. During a dim sum tea lunch, the baked triangles arrive on the same cart that other baked goods like char siu bao and dan tat come rolled in on. If you get caught up in the chaos of yelling out your dim sum order, you might accidentally skip over these simple-looking pockets not realizing that they have a yummy, savory curry filling tucked inside.
My mother-in-law has a secret non-Chinese ingredient that she uses to give these puffs an extra boost of vibrant curry flavor–Thai red curry paste. Thai red curry paste is more pungent and hotter than plain curry powder is, and adds fullness, moisture, and a tinge of orangey color to the flavorful ground chicken filling.
If you are in the mood for buns instead of turnovers, you can easily swap out this filling for the pork filling in my Honeyed BBQ Pork Bun recipe. As always, don’t overfill turnovers and buns. This way, the filling and flavor stays put in the center of the pocket, right where it should be.A traditional drink to enjoy with these Chicken Curry Puffs is a bold, rich cup of fermented black Pu-erh tea, a brew strong enough to stand up to all the big aromatic curry flavors here. Another option is to serve these golden turnovers with a chilly glass of Thai Iced Tea. If you love the combination of sweet and spicy, this is an incredibly satisfying tea and food pairing that you really shouldn’t miss!
Dim Sum Recipe #9: Chicken Curry Puffs
Makes 18 puffs.
1 lb. ground chicken
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp red curry paste
2 Tbsp Asian curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp rice wine or sherry
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1-1 lb package puff pastry, thawed
1 egg mixed with 1 tsp of water
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
large wok or skillet
2 large sheet pans fitted with parchment or silicone baking mats
1 Tbsp measure
1.) Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a large wok on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, and cook for a few minutes until the onions are slightly softened. Add the curry paste, curry powder, and salt and cook for another few minutes until the onions are soft. Increase the heat to high then add the ground chicken, and mix in with the onions until thoroughly incorporated.
2.) While the chicken is still cooking, add the soy, sesame oil, sugar, and black pepper and stir those ingredients in. When the chicken has fully cooked and is no longer pink, add the rice wine and let it cook out. Turn off the heat and place the chicken filling mixture on a large plate to cool.
3.) When the filling has cooled to room temperature, mix in the chopped cilantro and sliced green onion.
4.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Unfold the puff pastry out into one layer on a work surface. Cut into 9 equal squares, each about 3″ x 3″. Fill each square with 1 Tbsp of the filling, being careful not to overfill. Lightly dab the inner edges of the pastry square with water, then fold one side of the square onto the other to create a turnover. Pinch the edges together firmly to seal them. Place the turnovers on a large baking sheet, about 1″ apart from one another. Repeat this process for all 18 turnovers, placing 9 on each tray.
5.) Brush each turnover with egg wash (an egg mixed with 1 tsp water), then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake turnovers for 15 to 17 minutes or until pastries are puffed and golden brown.