No. 58: Shrimp and Chicken Curry Clay Pot At Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant
You know that knee-jerk reaction whenever the waitress drops off your sizzling fajita platter or a hot pasta plate? That urge to reach out and touch it with your bare hand?
She didn't look so tough, you tell yourself. You think, that plate doesn't look so hot.
To be clear, then: Do not touch the sizzling clay pot at Mai's. Last time I went, my waitress didn't even warn me about it -- this is Darwinian stuff. When your food is still bubbling 10 minutes after it landed on your table, you can bet that ceramic receptacle is going to be hot too.
Dig down -- careful of the rim, which is very hot too -- to the rice in the bottom of the pot, and you'll reach a blackened layer caked around the edges that yields with a satisfying crunch. Stir up the rest of the rice like the fruit in the bottom of a yogurt cup. You might want to use an extra-long pair of chopsticks to be safe.
You may think you lead a pretty wild life, but you've never been assaulted by a chunk of cauliflower like you will when you pluck one straight from a bubbling curry clay pot and pop it in your mouth. Each chew unlocks a new ferociously hot cauliflower surface. It is great in the summertime. The cabbage, carrots and broccoli are pretty warm too.
Best of all, though, the sustained heat breathes extra life into the already fine spicy curry sauce and even keeps it from thickening around the pieces of chicken and shrimp.
The clay pot is not so big that you can't in one sitting, but it's worth noting, if you just didn't bring your A-game to the table, Mai's chicken and shrimp curry is great out of the fridge the next morning, too.
Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant
Mon-Fri., 11-3 and 5-9:30, Sat. 11-10
4812 Bryan Street.
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