Oh, yum. That’s all I can think of when someone says Thai curry. This used to be one of my dad’s staple meals, and he’d always whip up some exotic Thai sides while he was at it (the best I could manage was pad thai from a box).
The first time I made this recipe on my own, it was for 80 people. And it wasn’t exactly on my own…
It was with my good friends at Oberlin cooking for the Pile Inn food co-op. I wanted to make something extra special, so I called up my dad, and he recited this recipe from the top of his head. Of course I needed to make some adjustments (and make it vegetarian—yay, Oberlin!), but I’ve kept the recipe all these years, tweaking it as I went along. I think I’ve got it down pretty good now, so let me share a few secrets with you.
1. Use Good Curry Paste
My dad preferred this one, and so do I. The best part about this recipe is that you can use either red or green curry paste, depending on your fancy. I usually try to match the color of bell pepper I use to the curry color, but that’s just an aesthetic preference.
As you can see, I forgot to take this picture before using the curry paste, but I ended up using about half of the container (you can keep the other half in the fridge for ages). The next best thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it to your preferred spice level by adding more curry paste. I’ve found that half a jar brings out some nice, but not overwhelming spice (I usually add an extra kick to my servings in the form of jalapenos or sriracha because I’m cool like that). The third best thing about this curry is that it seems to get slightly spicier as it sits in the fridge as leftovers, so keep that in mind as well.
2. You can use puréed ginger.
My dad told me about this kitchen hack about a year ago when I complained about how hard it was to keep fresh ginger on hand. If you’re like me and don’t cook with ginger often enough to keep a fridge full of fresh roots, look for the jarred stuff. It stays fresh longer, tastes basically the same, plus no peeling/grating. Hurrah!
3. Use fresh basil (dammit)
Nothing beats the taste of fresh basil, and nothing beats the smug feeling of not paying $5 an ounce for it at the grocery store by growing your own damn plant. Seriously, they’re some of the hardest plants to kill—speaking as someone who did not inherit her dad’s green thumb.
Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get cooking.
A very simple take on red or green chicken curry with plenty of Thai flavor.
- 3.5 cups of white or jasmine rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
- 4 tablespoons red or green curry paste (or more, to taste)
- 4 13.5 oz cans coconut milk
- 1.5 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup shredded/chopped basil leaves
- Vegetable Suggestions:
- 1 red or green bell pepper
- 1 10-oz. can bamboo shoots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped/grated ginger
- Optional: 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- Feel free to experiment with your favorite veggies (responsibly!)
- Sauté chopped onions and minced garlic in vegetable oil for 5-10 minutes. Add chicken and cook 10 more minutes. Then put everything in a large pot. In a separate pot, begin cooking the rice according to the directions on the package.
- Add curry paste, coconut milk, and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add whatever veggies will tickle your fancy…see the above list.
- Next, add soy sauce, brown sugar, and lastly the basil. Simmer for another 10 min.
- Serve in bowls over white rice. Other serving suggestions include peanuts, extra basil, and jalapeños marinated in soy sauce/sesame seeds for extra spice. Eeesta niiice!
Substitute tofu for chicken and vegetable stock for chicken stock for a vegetarian-friendly curry.
Today’s bonus pic:Google+