I have complained enough about the insufficient quality/ authenticity of Thai restaurants in London (see my post on Siam Central or Suda Rice Bar or Rosa’s), time to stop whining and try myself in Thai cooking. I love Thai green curry and have always wanted to make one from scratch. Somehow I had the misconception that this would be incredibly difficult. Let me assure you – it’s not. The only challenging thing is to source all the ingredients, and it helps if you live next to Chinatown. If you need some help, check out this handy guide on Asian Supermarkets in London.
For the curry itself you need a lot of small spicy green Birds-eye chillies, I just used them without removing the seeds and the curry turned out perfectly spiced. Of the lemongrass, use the soft inner parts as opposed to entire stem. Galangal, a close relative to ginger, may be the most difficult to find outside specialised Asian stores and I have read in some recipes that it can be replaced by ginger. Most recipes suggest to use kaffir lime zest, I substituted with kaffir lime leaves as I did not have any fresh kaffir limes and it worked just fine. It was the first time in my life that I have seen/ cooked with fresh Thai tumeric. It looks like a small ginger and when I peeled it I was amazed by its beautiful orange colour. However, it took me ages to get if off my hands, the chopping board and even the knives which were all stained nicely yellow, so be careful. It can be substituted with dry turmeric, which of course is not half as fun.
The recipes that inspired my Thai Green Curry were by Felicity Cloak and Chez Pim, a blog purely dedicated to Thai cooking, and I even had a look at Delia Smith. Very similar ingredients and preparation methods are used in all recipes, the main differences are in the amounts of ingredients used.
I should have made the curry paste using a pestle and mortar but it’s only so far I go for authenticity. I threw all ingredients into my food processor which worked a dream and I got a smooth paste within 10 minutes. I feel it might take you quite a bit longer if you go down the manual path, but don’t let me hold you back.
The Thai cooking blog SheSimmers, points out that rather than preparing a Thai curry paste using an inferior recipe or missing out on crucial ingredients, we should use a commercial curry paste. With this she clearly doesn’t refer to products such as Loyd Grossman Green Curry Sauce (*shudders*), but her favourites are these ones from Maesri. Let me urge you not to go for Thai curry pastes produced in the UK (e.g. Tesco or Waitrose ones) but buy Thai ones, which you can easily order online if you can’t get them in your area.
With the recipe below I prepared enough curry paste to last for two meals for two people and it keeps (from my experience) in the fridge easily for a week, very probably longer. Alternatively, use the whole paste on a meal for 4-5.
THAI GREEN CURRY
Amount: 4 people (or 2 people and enough curry paste left for another meal)
Preparation/ Cooking Time: 45 – 60 minutes (if you use a food processor)
For the Curry Paste
- 20 green chillies
- 3 stalks of lemon grass (only use soft parts in the middle)
- 5 Thai shallots (or normal shallots)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (or as suggested in other recipes, Kaffir lime zest which I didn’t have)
- 30g (around 4 cm) of galangal
- 1 tsp of shrimp paste
- 1 tbsp of chopped coriander stems (coriander roots if you have)
- 3 cm of fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric)
- 1 tsp of ground coriander or coriander seeds
Roughly chop all the ingredients, throw in food processor and whiz away until you have a coarse green paste. I needed to add a few spoonfuls of water to get the paste right. Can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for at least a week.
- 3 chicken breasts, chopped into 2 cm pieces
- 150g Thai pea aubergine (or purple eggplant)
- 150g green beans, halved (this may not be very Thai, but I like green beans and they fitted perfectly well with this recipe)
- 1-2 tsp Fish sauce
- 1 tsp Palm sugar
- 2 cans of coconut milk (1 can if you make the curry for 2 people and keep some of the paste for later)
- a couple of Kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced
- 1 handful of fresh Thai basil leaves
- 1 fresh red chilli
1. Heat some oil in a wok or deep pan.
2. Add the curry paste and fry for a few minutes on medium heat, constantly stirring. Your kitchen will soon be filled by a beautiful smell.
3. Open the can of coconut milk and add the creamy (as opposed to the more liquid) part to the curry paste. Cook for a few minutes until the paste has nicely dissolved.
4. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk little by little (always letting it reduce for a bit before adding more) and bubble on a medium heat until the oil has separated on top.
5. Add fish sauce and palm sugar (caster suger can be used) to taste until you have reached the perfect balance of sweat, salty and spicy.
5. Finally add the chicken, followed by the vegetables. The aubergine takes longer to cook than the green beans, so you may want to add them a bit earlier.
6. Boil on small heat until the chicken is well cooked through but still tender and the vegetables have still some bite left to them.
7. Add thinly shredded kaffir lime leaves shortly before the curry is finished.
8. Arrange curry in a bowl, garnished with some ripped Thai basil leaves and chopped fresh red chilli. Serve with basmati or Thai jasmine rice.