Thai Red Curry in Young Coconut
In Thailand, a young coconut is sometimes used as a means of serving a curry on a special occasion. Even just a couple of years ago, this would never have been a suitable recipe for the UK due to the difficulty of obtaining young coconuts. I’m sure there are still parts of the UK where it might still be difficult to get one but now that stores like Marks & Spencer have started selling them I think it’s becoming pretty mainstream. They are also stocked in Asian supermarkets and other places. Now you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a fancy way of serving a curry, actually there is far more to it than that. Although many of these coconuts are sold here just for the coconut as a drink (Marks & Spencer’s even do a small one with a ring pull tab!), it is the young coconut flesh inside that combines wonderfully with Thai curries to create a really special dish. So, even if a little effort is required to obtain young coconuts I am sure you won’t be disappointed with the end result, and you get the added bonus of a wonderfully refreshing drink!
If you can find very small coconuts, you can use them as individual dishes, otherwise most young coconuts on sale generally work best as a serving dish for 2 to 4 people. Opening up the coconuts to extract the flesh and use as a serving dish is something I deal with here
. You can also serve the curry of your choice this way, would be great with a Thai green seafood curry as well. If you are cooking it as above the ingredients are fairly flexible, I’m using 500 to 600 g chicken, per packet of curry paste. A mild red pepper, some small tomatoes and a handful of frozen peas. As always, a good quality coconut milk, and knowing how to use it, will make all the difference to your dish. See Coconut Milk Summary
for details. The kaffir lime leaves are optional and you can follow this link for advice on where to buy them Kaffir Lime Leaves
. You will also need some soy sauce. The fresh green peppercorns are simply something I had in the fridge, although readily available in Asian stores they are not essential to the recipe. 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.
Open and scoop out the flesh of the coconut following the instructions on this link.
Grill chicken under a fairly hot grill, you will be cooking fully in the sauce later so don't overcook it at this stage, generally speaking chicken breast will cook quicker than chicken thighs, depending on your grill this could be about five or six minutes. After removing from the grill place in a dish and marinate for five minutes with a spoonful of dark soy sauce.
Sauté the cherry tomatoes in a little vegetable oil until the skins start to split. Reserve.
Add the curry paste to the pan and half a can of coconut milk using the thicker part of the milk at the top of the can if possible. Heat until it bubbles.
Add the grilled chicken to the sauce followed by most of the coconut flesh reserving a few strips for later.
Stir and heat through for a minute or two until once again the sauce starts to bubble.
Add the remainder of the coconut milk.
Add the vegetables.
Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Put curry into coconut garnishing with the reserved strips of coconut flesh and some finely chopped kaffir lime leaf if you have it.
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