Possibly the most famous of Thai dishes, certainly the most abused! I long ago gave up shaking my head in amazement at what passes for Thai green curry outside Thailand for fear of repetitive strain injury to my neck.
The quality of meat available in the West is far superior to that available in Thailand, and yet in Thailand they produce divine tasting curries. That is because they know the quality of the paste and the coconut milk is far more important to a Thai curry than the quality of the meat. An expensive corn-fed organic chicken can’t redeem a curry cooked with a jar of supermarket gloop and a can of coconut milk loaded with stabilisers.
Looking back, probably this got me started on my present career path; the desire to show people what a Thai green curry should really taste like. Cooking it for friends and watching their reactions as they tasted it was reward in itself. These days I have customers all over the world I ship curry pastes to but I still get the same feeling when a customer posts a review on my curry pastes, putting the world right with one Thai green curry at a time!
There are several ways to cook Thai Green Curry and the way of doing it in Thailand varies between the different regions, I find that this method works out best for my paste. One note of caution, the easiest way to spoil a Thai Green Curry is to use the "wrong" type of coconut milk.
Make sure you’re using the “right” type of coconut milk as it will make or break this or any other coconut based curry. Quick guide here, Coconut Milk Summary or if you would like to see the difference between different brands of coconut milk the full article is here, Cooking Thai Curry with Coconut Milk. Just use half a can to start with, if it has separated in the can to a thick part at the top of the can then use the top part. You can add the remaining coconut liquid later depending on how thick you want your curry to be. The "traditional" method of heating the milk until it separates from it's oil and using that to cook the paste is not something I recommend as many people find it hard to achieve consistent results with canned coconut milk.
You can use chicken thighs or chicken breast if you prefer, baby sweet corn with green beans and a mild red chilli or red pepper for decoration. I'm cooking around 500 g of chicken plus vegetables so I'm using one pouch of curry paste and one can of coconut milk. The recipe is the same whether you are cooking the Southern Thai green curry or the Bangkok style curry. The pastes are complete but it is always a good idea to have a little lime juice to hand to adjust sweetness, if needed, to your personal taste at the end of cooking. You also adjust saltiness by adding a little more fish sauce or salt if required.
Slice chicken into chunks, the sweetcorn lengthwise and the green beans diagonally. Put pan on a medium heat, add paste and cook for 2 minutes
Add the chicken and stir into the paste for a few minutes more.
Add the coconut milk. Just half the can at first.
Bring to a simmer and add the remaining coconut milk whilst stirring.
Reduce the heat and cover pan, cook for around 10 minutes.
Remove the cover and reduce the cooking liquid until it thickens, this is very dependent on personal taste and the brand of coconut milk that you used. At this stage you add the vegetables and stir through. I've garnished mine with some kaffir lime leaves I have cut into a chiffonade (love that word!) or long thin strips if you must! A note about kaffir lime leaves, you can buy them frozen in many Asian food stores and they last for ages.
Thai red chicken curry with butternut squash is a classic and a great favourite of mine. The colouring effect of the squash results in a curry that is orange rather than red; however it is still very definitely a Thai red curry. And if that sounds confusing, what you have to know is that in Thai when we refer to a red or green curry we are talking about the colour of the chilies we use to make the curry paste, not the colour of the finished curry. You can chop and change the ratio of chicken to squash in the recipe as you wish, or even omit the chicken altogether if you prefer.
The mere mention of the words “Chicken Satay” to someone who has travelled in Southeast Asia is enough to bring that far away look into their eyes, and for good reason. There has to be something special about a dish that can be found throughout the countries of the region, taking on national and local culinary characteristics on its travels and so often delivering on an incredible taste experience. It is invariably at its best as a street food rather than in a restaurant. Frequently, the Satay vendor’s stall may be providing the income for a whole family, and there is fierce competition for customers from other street food vendor’s. If you want to stay in business then your Satay has to be good, very good. The marinades and peanut sauce are always prepared by hand and closely guarded recipes are the norm in this business rather than the exception!
Red curry paste is the most versatile of all the Thai pastes, you can use it to make Thai fishcakes, in stir fries or marinades, in almost any dish where you want to add that Thai taste. For me though this is where it comes into its own, with duck or any game bird it makes for a magical dish. We had goose this Christmas and the leftover meat ended up in a red curry that disappeared all too soon ! I’m not normally a fan of pineapple in savoury dishes, (put it on my pizza at your own risk) but it really does work with this dish, a classic combination.