With fall arriving, I’m fortifying myself against cold evenings with hot broths and heartwarming soups. Thai curry is an ideal dish for this weather.
It’s not as thick as Indian curries so it gives me the soupy satisfaction I’m looking for. Yet, it packs plenty of heat from the chilis and curry paste.
I love freshly cooked jasmine rice with this Thai curry. But I’m very particular about the kind of jasmine rice I like. Call me spoiled growing up spending most of my summers in a Thai grocery store with my mum where I played hide and seek among 25kg (50lb) bags of jasmine rice. I learned how to tell whether the rice was topnotch by smelling the fragrance through the plastic rice bags. The best stuff came around February after the harvest in the late Fall and then transportation in a shipping container from Thailand to New Zealand.
I’ve yet to find a jasmine rice I’m in love with. To be fair, it’s a tall order, comparing memories of my childhood to what I can find in the supermarket aisle. So, I skip jasmine rice altogether and go for cauliflower rice. Free of sentimental baggage, cauliflower rice is an innocuous side dish that I can rely on to transport as much curry to my mouth as possible while still giving me plenty of bulk and fiber while being low in carbohydrates.
I’ll report back if I ever find that elusive fragrant jasmine rice again. For now, though, I’m sticking to cauliflower rice.
Thanks to our CSA box, we’ve been getting Fall vegetables that are perfect for curries, such as green beans, carrots, and sweet potatoes. The fresh vegetables add a lot of flavor to any dish, even in a stew-like curry where I boil the vegetables for a very long time.
The main star of this dish is the curry paste. I don’t make my own. I could, but I prefer an 80/20 approach. Since my local Asian grocery store carries very authentic curry paste, I buy it from them. Surprisingly, I went to 99 Ranch Market in Foster City but I couldn’t find any Thai curry paste. I had to go to the Marina and visit their Thai/Southeast Asian aisle. A couple of options caught my eye. When I saw the package full of Thai writing and really poorly translated English instructions, I knew I found my curry paste!
Sadly, the supermarket didn’t carry any kaffir lime leaves. They had lemongrass and galangal, but no kaffir lime leaves. What a mystery. Luckily, the curry paste already came with kaffir lime so that saved me. Consequently, we went to Orchard Supply Hardware to buy a kaffir lime leaf plant a week later to rectify this problem. More on that in a later post.
The final piece of advice I have for making this is to relax and add anything you feel like enjoying in your curry. I’m doubtful that Thai people actually eat sweet potatoes in their curry. But that’s what I love about cooking. It’s not strict like baking. It’s spontaneous and you can do whatever the hell you want.
- 2 cans Coconut cream (Substitute with coconut milk if you prefer.)
- 2 Sweet potatoes (Substitute with regular potatoes if you prefer.)
- 1 pound Green beans
- 2 Carrot
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 3 bulbs Lemongrass (Optional. Find at the Asian supermarket.)
- 3 Thai chilis (Thai hot chilis)
- 3 tablespoon Green curry paste (Thai curry paste. The more authentic, the better)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (Substitute with palm sugar if you have it.)
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce (Substitute with light soy sauce)
- 3 tablespoon Canola oil
- 2 pound Chicken drumsticks (Substitute with chicken breast if you prefer.)
- 1 can Chicken broth (12 oz)
- 1 handful Thai basil (Optional. Find at Asian supermarket.)
- Chop the green beans to about 2-3 inches long pieces.
- Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
- Chop the carrots into 1-inch cubes.
- Peel the tough outer leaves from the lemongrass. Discard them. Once you reach the inner softer leaves, chop the leaves into 3-inch long pieces. You will throw these into the coconut milk later.
- Peel away the leaves until you get to the inner core of the lemongrass bulb where the softest inner stem is. Chop off the root. You will throw this into the coconut milk later. Finely dice the inner stem.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet on high.
- Brown the chicken on all sides for no more than 10 minutes. Don't overcook as it will continue cooking in the curry.
- Remove the browned chicken from the skillet.
- In a large pot, add all the coconut cream. Boil the coconut cream on medium-high heat.
- Add all of the lemongrass roots and leaves to the coconut cream. Allow the coconut cream to continue boiling with the lemongrass.
- In the same skillet that you cooked the chicken, add the curry paste. Allow the curry paste to heat and become fragrant, about 3 minutes on high heat.
- Add a ladle of the coconut cream into the skillet. Mix the curry paste with the coconut cream.
- Add the 3 Thai chilis.
- Add the sugar.
- Squeeze the garlic with a garlic press directly into the skillet.
- Add the chicken back into this pan. Pour in the fish sauce.
- Coat the chicken with the coconut cream and curry paste mixture.
- Transfer the chicken to the large pot with the coconut cream and lemongrass. Transfer everything in the skillet into the large pot.
- Stir the chicken and turn the heat up to high.
- Add the chicken broth. Cook for 10 minutes. Don't cover the lid. Let the curry reduce and thicken.
- Add the carrots. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
- Once the carrots and sweet potatoes are softened, add the green beans to avoid overcooking the beans.
- The curry is ready once the green beans are cooked through. The curry should be thick. Roughly chop the Thai basil and sprinkle on top of the dish.
- Enjoy the curry with a side of jasmine rice, coconut rice, or cauliflower rice.
- I like to use palm sugar but I don't always have it in the kitchen. I substitute with brown sugar.
- I don't like fish sauce so I substitute with soy sauce. If you enjoy fish sauce, please feel free to use it!
- For very authentic curry paste, I go to the Asian supermarket and find the Thai grocery aisle. I go for the curry paste with only writing in Thai and made in Thailand.
- I like to use chicken drumsticks because Alex really likes drumsticks and the bone helps to thicken and add richness to the curry. Substituting with chicken thighs or breasts will tasty curry too.
- Skip the extra chili if you don't want extra spice. Those chilis are very hot!
- Don't touch your eyes after you handled the chilis especially if you chop them for extra spice before putting into the recipe.
- Skip the lemongrass if you can't find it or don't want to bother. If you have an authentic curry paste without any fillers, you can get by without the extra lemongrass.
- Skip browning the meat and heating up the coconut cream if you're short on time. Throw the chicken, curry paste, seasonings right into the coconut cream pot.
- I couldn't find any kaffir lime leaves in the Asian supermarket or else I would have put a few leaves in. If you have access to kaffir lime leaves, I highly recommend adding them. Crush them in your palm or slice them and add them in the same time you put in the lemongrass.