Sometimes you want to come home from work, strip down to your unmentionables, pour yourself a stiff drink, and eat an astonishing amount of Thai food.
Don’t let me frighten you away! The actual culinary skill involved for this homemade Thai Red Curry is very little: can you make a blender drink? You can make this. I will admit, though, that assembling the ingredients can be a bit piddly. But that’s ok – one trip to a decently stock Asian market should have you ready to go. I first made this dish while I was at home in Newfoundland visiting my family - if I could track down the ingredients in the land of Fish n Chips, I’d wager you can find them where you are, too.
This recipe is a mish-mash of dozens I have read. I can’t make any guarantees towards authenticity but it is delicious.
Thai Red Curry Chicken and Veggies
For the red curry paste:
15-20 dried red chilis, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (I used 20)
1 shallot, chopped, or 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
1/2 a red pepper, chopped
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, chopped (tender parts only – remove the outer tough layer) or 3 TBSP frozen sliced lemongrass
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp kaffir lime leaves (often sold frozen in a package – they look like large, lime scented bay leaves) or substitute the zest of 2 limes
3 tsp red chili sauce, such as sriracha
2 thai bird’s eye chilis (optional – only if you like things VERY spicy)
One 2-inch piece of galangal or ginger, sliced
1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander (aka cilantro) stems
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar or equivalent amount of sweetner of your choice
2 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 tbsp coconut milk (optional – if you have trouble pureeing)
For the assembly:
1 large can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 small can of bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite sized pieces (use instead: beef, shrimp, or tofu)
Assorted veggies: eggplant, green beans, red pepper (optional)
Soak your dried chilis in hot water. Doesn’t that look like the devil’s hot tub? Yikes. Anyway, while your chilis are soaking, chop your other ingredients.
Clockwise from top – your soaked red chilis, shallot, garlic, galangal (or ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves (or zest of 2 limes), thai bird’s eye chilis (optional), chopped coriander (aka cilantro) stems.
Stuff everything into your magic bullet cup (if you’re me ) – or add everything to your blender. If the lime juice/fish sauce/soy sauce is not enough liquid to get things moving, add a few tbsp of your coconut milk.
Why, hello! It’s your new friend, Thai Red Curry paste! Now…please taste a miniscule amount. Literally dip your pinkie finger in and taste this tiniest bit because this is the concentrated paste and as such, it is very, very strong. Adjust as necessary – if you can’t taste the lemongrass, add more. If you find it too sour, add more sugar or tomato paste. Not savoury enough? Add a little more soy sauce or some salt. Is it very spicy? Consider that the coconut milk will calm that. Way, way, way too spicy for you? Add a little more lime juice to calm the heat.
The next step is to sautée your chicken (or whatever protein you wish) just until no longer pink in the middle. About 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. Set aside.
Now add a little oil to your pan along with 2 to 4 tbsp of your curry paste and apologize for your terrible photo (I’m sorry). For a milder curry, use 2 tbsp of paste; if you like it spicy like we do, use 4 tbsp. The point of this awful photo is to show you that as you cook your red curry paste, it will begin to darken and become fragrant. At this point, add your coconut milk and stir until combined. Then add your veggies (if using), bamboo shoots, and chicken and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until veggies are tender and your whole kitchen is engulfed in the smell of Thai food. Serve over steamed rice with lime wedges as a garnish.
Now, eat a ridiculous amount and enjoy. Happy weekend!
P.s. But Julia, you didn’t say what to do with all my leftover curry paste? Leftover red curry paste can be portioned out in tbsp into plastic sandwich bags or containers and frozen for future use. Just defrost your portion of curry paste and proceed with the recipe. A little work upfront makes a lot of lazy weekend suppers, huh?