Friday, February 11, 2011

Thai coconut curry

I've espoused my love of Thai food before, and today is no different. This week I tackled one of my favorite Thai dishes: coconut curry.

Creamy and spicy deliciousness...

And wow, I'm so glad I did! This dish came out amazing. And pretty damn authentic (I think...).

Now, I tried to make make coconut curry at home a long time ago but had a big, big problem. No, I didn't have a hard time finding the red curry paste in my supermarket. But the issue was in using the red curry paste. It's a delicious product, don't get me wrong. But it's soooo spicy, I could never get my dish to taste just right without burning off my tongue.

Too much curry paste and the dish had perfect flavor but it was too damn spicy.
Too little curry paste and the dish had perfect heat but it was too weak in flavor.

What's a girl to do??

So I'd given up.  Well, that is, I'd given up until I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman for homemade coconut curry and homemade red curry paste. Well hot damn, if I could control the level of heat in my curry paste, then the dish would have all the flavors I love without being overly spicy!

Coconut red curry with chicken, cherry tomatoes, orange peppers, 
mushrooms, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. 
I'm gonna call it a healthy dish, even with the full-fat coconut milk in it...

In making the curry paste, I didn't have chilli powder, which is a main ingredient of red curry paste. So I used a few dried red chillies instead, but I think they provided more heat than flavor.

To make up for the lack of chilli powder in my paste, I added some of my jarred red curry paste to the final dish. And wow, it added a great flavor without making the dish too spicy. (The curry tasted good before, but something was missing. The jarred curry paste solved the mystery of the missing flavor.)

When I make this recipe in the future, using actual chilli powder in the homemade curry paste recipe might be enough to provide the missing umph in flavor, so I might not need to use the jarred stuff. I guess we'll have to experiment and see...

But overall, this is an absolutely great recipe to play around with and adjust to your own tastebuds!

My tastebuds loved this dish just fine!

The curry isn't the only thing you can modify according to your tastebuds. The protein/veggies you use in the dish are totally up to you too. Chicken, beef, pork, duck, tofu, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, snap peas, broccoli, bok choy, edamame, zucchini, eggplant. The varieties are endless.

There's something immensely satisfying in eating food that's naturally colorful.

And no matter what you decide to throw in there, I can pretty much guarantee it'll knock your socks off.

Buen Provecho,

Homemade red curry paste, adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1/8 whole red onion or1/2 large shallot
1/2 stalk lemongrass, Rinsed And Chopped
2 cloves garlic, Peeled
1 piece ginger root, Peeled (about 1/2 Inch Cube)
1/2 TBSP ketchup
1/4- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*
2 dried red chillis (orig. recipe called for 1 TBSP chilli powder)*
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp (white) pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 TBSP fish sauce
1/2 TBSP soy sauce
2-4 TBSP coconut milk (keep the rest of the can for the dish)
1/2 lime or lemon


Add all the dry ingredients (first 11) to a food processor or blender, and blend until completely combined. Add the liquid and mix until smooth. Refrigerate overnight if possible.

* Note: it’s always easier to add heat than to take it away, so if you don’t want the curry super spicy, cut down on these ingredients. But also remember that this paste will get “diluted” in the final product, so it’s going to be a lot more spicy then the final dish.

My paste was a little bit gritty (probably from the lemongrass). You could strain it if you wanted it super smooth, but I didn't really care.

Red Thai curry with chicken and veggies, adapted from Pioneer Woman


3 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
homemade red curry paste
~2 tsp jarred red curry paste
1 can coconut milk (I used the remainder after making the curry paste)
½ cup hot water
1-3 TBSP fish sauce, to taste
3 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
3-4 whole kaffir leaves (optional)
½ whole red onion or 1.5 large shallots, sliced
1½ -2 orange peppers, sliced
bunch of mushrooms, sliced
bunch of sugar snap peas and/or snow peas
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

fresh basil and/or cilantro


1. Heat 1 TBSP of oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat and add chicken to pan. After a few minutes, flip the chicken pieces over and cook until done. I suggest you do it in two batches if your pan isn’t large enough; you don’t want to crowd the pan. Remove chicken onto a dish and set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium low and add the minced garlic and curry pastes (homemade and jarred). Cook for a few minutes to release the flavors.

3. Add coconut milk, hot water, fish sauce, minced ginger, and kaffir leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes while you continue with the veggies.

4. In another large pan, heat another tablespoon or two of oil. Add sliced onions, orange pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until starting to get soft. Add the peas and cook for another 2 or so minutes.

5. Add veggies to the curry sauce (or curry sauce to the veggies, whichever pan can hold more food). Add the cooked chicken and stir to combine. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until warmed. Add more water to thin the sauce if you want it liquidy. Remove the kaffir leaves.

6. Add chopped basil and/or cilantro for an extra burst of flavor and serve over rice.


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