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Thai Red Curry April 2, 2009

Posted by Fritz in Food.
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One of my very favorite meals is a Thai red curry.  Since discovering Thai food back in Houston more than 20 years ago, I have experimented with recreating the delicious meals I have had in the various Thai restaurants I’ve visited.  I will admit to a bit of trial and error but I think I can now report I’ve got this one just about right.

Thai Red Curry

Thai Red Curry

This meal can be made with or without meat so your vegetarian friends will still be happy that you invited them over.  I prefer chicken, only because I still eat meat and it’s the lesser of all the meaty evils…

The meal actually comes together very quickly—you’ll spend far more time prepping than actually cooking.  Having said that, don’t be put off by the prep.  If you enjoy cooking, the prep time is foreplay!

Here’s what you’ll need for a serving for 4:

2 chicken breasts sliced thin on the diagonal (should yield about 24 slices)

1 medium red onion cut in half and sliced against the rings

1/2 each of red, yellow and orange bell peppers sliced lengthwise (about 8 slices each)

5 mushrooms, quartered

3 green onions cut in 1 inch lengths

1 14oz. can coconut milk (+ 1/2 can of water)

2 T chopped garlic

2 T minced ginger root

1 T minced lemon grass

2 to 3 T red curry paste

juice from 1/2  a lime

3 T fish sauce

1 T sugar

1 T vegetable oil

3 kaffir lime leaves, loosely chopped

10-15 Thai basil leaves, loosely chopped

10 sprigs of cilantro leaves pulled from stems  (reserve enough for garnish)


Thai basil or ‘horapa’ in Thai, has an unique flavor unlike it’s Italian cousin. The aroma is stronger, sweeter, slightly peppery and has a distinct hint of licorice. The stems are thicker than other basils and a beautiful purple color.


I serve this over rice or rice noodles.  Jasmine rice takes about 15-20 minutes to boil. Rice noodles are done in 5 minutes.  Once started the curry will be ready in as little as 10 minutes so time your starches accordingly!

Start your prep by cutting and reserving your veggies so you can add them to the pan in the following order:  mushrooms, red onion, peppers, green onions.  Next chop your herbs (garlic, ginger, lemon grass, kaffir and basil) keeping each separate.

Next slice the chicken.  I like thin slices, about a 16th of an inch, cut on an angle.  It presents better.

Heat your skillet on medium-high and add oil.  Once the oil cracks with a drop of water add the chicken. Stir fry for a minute and add the mushrooms.  After another minute or so add the peppers and red onion.  Keep stirring until the veggies get a good sweat on; about 5 more minutes.  Now add the coconut milk.

While the milk comes up to temperature, create your curry.  In a bowl mix thoroughly the curry paste, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and 1/2 can of water. Add to veggies.

Don’t let the milk boil excessively.  A nice simmer will do so back the heat down to medium-low.  Stir often.  Depending on how crunchy you like your veggies, the meal is almost done.  About a minute before serving add the green onion, basil, kaffir and cilantro.

If serving with rice, I like to use a small ramekin to form my rice mold.  Simply fill the ramekin with rice, packing lightly.  Put your serving plate on top and flip the two together so when you remove the ramekin you have a beautiful round pile of rice in the middle of the plate.

If serving over rice noodles, here’s a trick I learned from my days cooking  in an Italian restaurant.  Drain the noodles and drizzle just a bit of vegetable oil into the mass.  Gently fork it through so the sticky rice gets slippery. Now, with a fork, pull up a good bit of noodles so they hang down.  With your other hand, flip the dangling noodles back over the fork so you make a doughnut shape. As you plate the noodles, keep that round shape.  It makes for a nicer presentation.

With portions in mind, spoon the appropriate amount of veggies and chicken onto the rice/noodles.  Then top the plate with the milk mixture, careful not to drown everything—just enough to keep everything deliciously covered in the curry sauce! Garnish with sprigs of fresh cilantro.

For those who like their Thai like the Thai’s, more red curry will fire it up but for an added treat, mix in a 1/2 teaspoon of Sambal red pepper sauce.  Sambal, as well as all the ingredients in this wonderful dish, can be found in most Asian markets and high-end supermarkets.  I love it because its heat hits you in the back of your mouth.  It’s hot, no question about it so go slow at first, but the flavor and the way it heats is outstanding.


1. Darren Rowse - Build a Better Blog Challenge - Lesson #8 « One Step At A Time - April 20, 2009

[…] usually chicken and we always have lots of vegetables.  We love all kinds of cuisine, especially Thai,  so it’s easy to keep it varied and […]

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