It's busy running three eateries — Chef BT is doing it in South Tampa with Restaurant BT, BT To Go, and Bistro BT.

In this latest installment of the Chef’s Kitchen, we head to Bistro BT, where the Chef is schooling us on the art of Chicken Curry Stew.

"When people think of coconut curry, they think of Indian food," BT said.

But curry is a dish served in many Asian cuisines, and BT says they each just prepare their curry a little differently.

The Marinade

Chef starts the marinade for the chicken, grating lemongrass.

"You get the best flavor. You get the maximum flavor out of the lemongrass," Chef said.

Or you can smash it to release the flavor.

"Slice it really, really thin, that too can be done if you don't have a cheese grater," BT said.

Next, Chef adds shallots, garlic, and galangal.

"Galangal is same family as ginger," said BT, "But it has a nice sharper flavor and it goes really great with curry."

Chili peppers, curry paste and finely chopped scallions round out the marinade.

(Chili peppers are optional, and for this recipe, Chef uses them to add a little "tang" to the dish.)

"At least a couple hours, or if you do it overnight it's even better."

At the Stove

Chef starts with two pans, searing the vegetables first, to help them stay intact.

"A little stronger outer layer so it will not fall apart when you stew it," BT explained.

There are carrots, batatas — a sweet potato relative — parsnips and onions. (You can substitute sweet potatoes if you can’t find batatas.)

In her second pan, Chef sears the marinated chicken and adds the seared veggies. The stew is coming together.

The Chef adds coconut milk and chicken stock. (You can substitute coconut water, but Chef says the chicken stock has a deeper flavor.)

Chef seasons the dish, adds fish sauce and the rest of the grated lemongrass.

"The lemongrass has a chance to penetrate into the chicken,” said Chef, “it has a chance to penetrate in the coconut milk."

She even chops and adds stalks of lemongrass for a deeper flavor. (You take them out before serving)

After simmering for 35 to 40 minutes, the dish is ready to enjoy.

Chef tops the dish with chopped basil and cilantro.

And she serves the curry dish with French bread.

Chicken Curry Stew

Serves 6


  • 3 lb. chicken breast
  • 4 oz. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 c. fish sauce (best quality)
  • 2 stalks lemon-grass, crushed or grated
  • (1/4 finely chopped for marinade)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. chicken stock or coconut juice
  • 2 lb. potatoes (or batata)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 medium carrots and/or parsnips
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or golden granulated sugar)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cilantro & Basil


  • 1/4 lemon-grass (finely chopped)
  • 1 shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 inch galangal, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 4 spring onions (white part)


Marinade preparation:

If possible, grind all marinade ingredients in a mortar (this releases more of the juices) or food processor.
Chop chicken into bite size pieces, cover each portion with marinade mixture; place in container and cover.
Leave for at least 3 hours or overnight.


  1. Heat half of oil in heavy based pan.
  2. Add vegetables and brown evenly.
  3. In a separate pan, add remaining oil and marinated chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add vegetables to meat.
  5. Add chicken stock or coconut juice, coconut milk and lemon-grass stalks.
  6. Mix well, bring to boil, add fish sauce, sugar, salt & pepper.
  7. Lower heat, simmer for 35 — 40 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Sprinkle cilantro, basil and onion on top before serving. Serve with hot French bread.