Thai Green Curry
Good Thai food is quite hard to find here in San Jose. The Thai restaurants around here tend to over sweeten their dishes and what we end up with is an unbalanced amount of sweetness that doesn’t satisfy. The only place that we consider somewhat decent is Krung Thai. (If you know of other restaurants that serve good Thai food in this area, would you let us know?)
So for the most part, I cook Thai at home. Thankfully, while I was living in the graduate dorm in Hawaii, I had many friends from Thailand who were fellow students. They taught me several Thai dishes that I can now cook from home with some ease.
One of my favorites is Thai Green Curry. It’s a very easy dish to make especially if you choose to use the prepared green curry paste that you can find in most Asian grocery stores. If you prefer to make your own paste, then the work does get harder. I personally just use a paste since it’s so convenient. Maybe one day, I will really try to make it from scratch.
Currently, the green curry paste that I like best is from the brand “Dancing Chef.” This brand cannot be found here in the US though. I get them from friends and family in Singapore. But before I found this brand, I used the “Mae Ploy” brand a lot. They are one of the better brands (according to my friends) for many Thai ingredients—curry pastes, coconut milk, etc.
Dancing Chef and Mae Ploy Brand Pastes
Thai Curry is Different
I do want to note that cooking Thai green curry is quite different from cooking Malaysian red curry (which I’ll talk about in another post). The main difference is in how they use the coconut milk. If you've ever opened a can of coconut milk, you know that there is a cap of thick cream at the top of the can, and thinner milk at the bottom. In my mom’s Malaysian curry, she always adds the thickest coconut cream at the end of the cooking process. My Thai friends told me that it’s important to use the thick coconut cream first and let the oils rise to the top before adding the green curry paste. It’s almost like using the coconut as an oil to fry the paste in.
I’ve also seen different vegetables and meats added to Thai green curries. The one I make has always been with chicken but I’m sure you can vary your protein if you like. I also like to add bamboo shoots and eggplant to my curry. I’ve seen versions that use small pea-sized eggplant or the striped golf-ball sized eggplant in green or white. When I can find them, I sometimes use them. The pea-sized ones are more bitter and crunchy and I’m not as fond of them. You can also make this dish vegetarian by just adding lots of veggies and tofu.
So, on to the recipe…
Thai Green Curry
1 Tbsp Mae Ploy brand Thai green curry paste or 1 pkt Dancing Chef paste
1 14.5 oz can of coconut milk (Mae Ploy or Chaokoh brands have worked well for me. Do not use light coconut milk)
1.5 lbs of chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (you can use either bone-in or boneless, white or dark meat or both)
2-3 Thai lime leaves (optional)
2 Japanese/Chinese eggplant or a cup of Thai globe eggplants (Italian globes can be used if no other option is available — 1/2 will be more than enough), cut into large half moons.
1 can sliced bamboo shoots (again, the Mae Ploy or Chaokoh brands are preferable), drained and rinsed in boiling water to get rid of “tinny” flavor.
1 bunch of Thai Basil
Fish sauce to taste
sugar, to taste
- Skim off thick part of coconut milk from the can (it should be on the top portion of your can—don’t shake up the can before opening). Put into your pan and heat at med high. Stir occasionally. If it looks like it’s burning, turn the heat lower. When you see a film of oil rising from the coconut, add 1 Tbsp green curry paste and stir around, mixing well. Wait for a layer of green oil to float to surface.
- Add chicken and stir around to coat. Cook chicken till it’s almost done. You should again be able to see that layer of oil on top.
- Add the rest of the coconut milk and a couple of dashes of fish sauce (maybe about 1 tsp). Let it come to a boil and turn heat down.
- Add in bamboo shoots and eggplant and Thai lime leaf (if using). Cook until eggplant is translucent and cooked through.
- Switch off the heat and stir in Thai basil leaves (leaving some to garnish if you want). Taste and add more fishsauce and/or sugar if needed.
Serve this dish with jasmine white rice and you have an instant meal. It tastes even better the next day so hope for leftovers!