After last week’s fun truffle indulgence, it was time to cook something a tad bit healthier, so my husband requested one of his favorite dishes, Thai red curry. Perfect, I thought, because I had some curry paste at home that needed to be used up. The funny thing with Thai curries is that while I love Indian and Sri Lankan curries, I very much dislike Thai curries. I’m not sure what it is that I find so awful about them, but I suspect it’s the combination of the curry paste and the coconut milk. Those ingredients are each delicious on their own, but when they come together in a Thai curry, it’s all over for me.
However, and I know this is going to sound somewhat bizarre, I greatly enjoy cooking Thai curries! There’s something very satisfying about the way these highly fragrant curries are put together. It only takes a few ingredients (all of which are available at Asian markets, and most even at regular grocery stores), a little bit of chopping and stirring, and almost no cooking skills to produce a complex and intensely flavored dish that is as easy to prepare for one as it is for a whole crowd.
The secret though to a great Thai curry lies in the curry paste, because it is the single ingredient that’s responsible for 99% of the final product’s flavor. Nothing, of course, compares to home made curry paste, but I find that store bought brands produce fabulous results. So far, my favorite brand is Maesri (no, I am not getting paid to say that), which is available in the US. I haven’t been able to locate it in Austria, so I’ve had to resort to importing it myself. Luckily, so far I’ve always made it passed the Austrian customs officials unnoticed…
Feel free to substitute the chicken in this recipe with lean pork, and the zucchini with eggplant or bamboo shoots.
Thai Red Chicken Curry (serves 4)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon thinly sliced Kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen)
- 1lb chicken breast, cut into small strips
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 – 2 zucchini (depending on the size), cut into small pieces
- 1 handful of fresh Thai basil leaves
1. Heat oil over high heat in a wok. Add curry paste and stir-fry for a few minutes.
2. Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and the Kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for a minute, stirring.
3. Add chicken and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add remaining coconut milk, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add zucchini and cook until the chicken and zucchini are done.
6. Remove from heat and stir in basil leaves.
7. Serve with jasmine rice.