If any of you were to decide to drop by unannounced around dinner time, more than likely you would find either me or Scotty standing over a simmering pot of creamy, savory, spicy, yumminess, adding in handfuls of freshly chopped veggies. This is our favorite meal and one we eat at least twice a week, often more. In fact when we were in France you wouldn’t find us hauling back sacks from the Monoprix half as often as you would find me peering at labels in the tiny aisles of the Asian grocery store. I would bring home bags bulging with fresh coriander, long stalks of lemongrass, tubs of curry paste, boxes of coconut milk, and baggies of kaffir lime leaves. It really was in France that I got to know how to use Thai curry pastes in a way that Scotty and I really liked. I’m not claiming authenticity by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t make my own paste (although that’s an adventure I want to undertake as soon as my herb garden actually succeeds in producing adequate quantities), I’ve never taken a lesson in Asian cooking technique, I’ve not even read any recipes on cooking Thai curry. I just knew we loved Thai and Vietnamese curries and decided to give it a whirl. Here’s what I came up with.
First a note on curry pastes. In France I had access to an amazing selection of wonderfulpastes but have not found it easy to find great options since being back in the States. Even a long wander through San Francisco’s Chinatown (I know, I know, China and Thailand are not the same) didn’t yield satisfactory results. The one type of curry I can reliably find is Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste and it’s fine. Not the best I’ve ever had and definitely mild. If you want to spice things up, add 1-2 finely chopped hot peppers to the recipe. If you’re able to find a curry paste you like better, use it by all means.
Thai Coconut Curry
- 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 jar Thai Green Curry Paste
- 2 yellow or white onions, chopped
- 1-2 hot chili peppers, finely minced (optional)
- 1-2 stalks lemon grass, cut into 2 inch lengths (optional)
- 1-2 pounds chicken cut into thin slices (I like a mixture of white and dark meat)
- 4-5 cups homemade chicken stock
- 3 12.5oz cans of organic coconut milk
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2-3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2inch cubes (optional)
- 2-3 red, green, orange, or yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 pound green beans, stingy bits removed, cut into 1-2 inch lengths
- 1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
- lime wedges, one or two for each serving
- other fun additions can include fresh baby corn, sugar snap peas, bean sprouts. Have fun with it.
Don’t get too caught up with getting perfect measurements on any of these ingredients. If you don’t like any of the veggies listed, leave them out. Hate cilantro, it’s fine without it. Not eating potatoes, skip them. Don’t have enough coconut milk, it will be fine. Seriously, every time I make this it’s different and it’s nearly impossible to wreck. So if you are worried about getting something wrong, relax.
First, in a large pot melt the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the curry paste. This is important in opening up all those delicious flavors. Sort of push it around the pan, mixing it with the coconut oil until it gets fragrant. Be sure you don’t burn it ’cause then the flavors will turn bitter. Add your chopped white/yellow onion and spicy peppers if using. Mix in with the curry and cook over medium to medium high heat until onions are tender. Once the onions are tender and translucent, add your chicken pieces. Mix around so that each piece is sort of coated with the curry and onions. Once the chicken is white on all sides, you can start adding
the chicken broth. Add just a little at first, stirring it around and scraping up any stuck bits on the sides and bottom of the pan. Then add the rest of the broth along with the potatoes and green beans. Add in the fish sauce. Yes, it’s smelly and fish but you won’t be able to taste that later but it’s necessary creating a dish with different layers of flavor. When I’ve left it out the curry is inevitably a bit flat.
Bring everything to a simmer and cook for about four minutes allowing the potatoes to begin to get tender and then add in the coconut milk. Yummy! Once the curry is brought up to a simmer, add the red onions and pepper. This would also be where you add the baby corn, snap peas, or other firm veggies you’re using. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Two minutes before serving add the green onions and fresh ginger, stirring well to get all that goodness mixed together.
And now you’re ready to serve. This is great over rice, but if you’re lo-carbing it, just skip it. I like it both ways. Serve into bowls, making sure to give everyone lots of veggies, meat, and broth. Top with fresh coriander and a wedge of lime. I always add more fish sauce to my portion as I like it a bit saltier than Scotty does. Once served, squeeze that lime over it and dig in. I like to serve it with cold cucumber slices drizzled with toasted sesame oil and lime juice. Enjoy!