My friend Debbie taught me to make Thai Curry. To me, it tastes better than ice cream. And now that I know how to make it, I wonder why I ever paid for it at a restaurant!? It is embarrassingly easy, and it tastes “wow!”
I’m going to teach you my way—transmuted from my friend Debbie’s way—so this is not authentic Thai. It tastes Thai, but I’m sure I’m doing something non-authentic . . .
This is super simple, but you must buy the right exotic ingredients. Not expensive, but there aren’t any easy substitutes. We’ll be making Masman Thai Curry.
You will need a plastic jar of Masman Curry, which is a bright red paste of chilis, cinnamon, cumin, lemon grass, cardoman, and other spices. This costs about $3 and will make 10+ pots of curry. The other thing you have to have is fish sauce, which is a inexpensive bottle of salty fishy liquid, sort of like soy sauce on Chinese food, I guess. And you need cans of coconut milk. And if you can find kaffir leaves (lime leaves), buy them too! You can store the leaves in your freezer. They add a delicious taste.
Ready to get started?
2 cans coconut milk (19 ounces)
1/4 cup (or more) Masman curry paste
2 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce
3 chicken breasts, cubed
Veggies: (all or just a few)
onions, sliced into thin wedges
red pepper, sliced into strips
bamboo shoots, canned
carrots, thinly sliced
green cabbage, shredded
Can add some fruit if you like:
lychees (canned fruit or fresh)
pineapple tidbits (use 1/2 of the can with juice too)
peanuts or cashews
Optional: kaffir leaves (lime leaves)
Open 2 cans of coconut milk and pour them into a pot. Add 1/4 cup Masman curry paste, stirring in with a whisk. Add 1 can of water. Put over medium heat, stirring. Taste the sauce. If you like it spicier, add another 1/4 cup of Masman curry paste. I like to use 1/2 cup—it has a soft creamy red tint and is flavorful with just the right amount of hotness. Yum! If you don’t like spicy food, start with 1/4 cup paste.
Now add the veggies, fruit and meat and let simmer until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. How much? For tonight’s curry I used: 4 boneless chicken thighs cubed, 1 small onion sliced thinly into wedges, 1/2 cup of sliced carrots, 1/2 cup shredded cabbage, 1 cup broccoli chopped, 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, and 1 stalk celery, sliced. Just start adding and stop when it looks like a creamy soup with veggies in it. I use what I have. I know that broccoli, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced carrots aren’t exactly Thai veggies, but they turn out great. It is the spices and coconut milk that make this dish so delicious, so don’t hesitate to use whatever veggies you have on hand. I think sliced apples would be good in it too.
If you have lime leaves, put in 4, removing the central spine. (These are for flavoring and you don’t eat them.) If you don’t have them, it is still great. (My kids prefer not having stuff floating in their curry that they cannot eat, such as lime leaves.) Pour in 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. If you want it saltier, add more. Taste it as you go.
Serve over brown rice, which is much yummier and far more nutritious than white rice. I also serve this with a plate of mango slices and pineapple spears. Super delicious!
Perfect Brown Rice
4 cups brown rice
8 cups water
1 tsp. salt
Put in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes. Don’t let it boil over—reduce heat if necessary. Don’t peek, don’t lift the lid. It will be perfect when you open the pot 45 minutes later!
For more of my favorite recipes, take a look at my cookbook, Hopkins’ Healthy Home Cooking.