A variety of curries are part of the Thai cuisine, but green curry is arguably the most uniquely Thai. The first step in Thai curry recipes is to prepare a batch of curry paste – which can then be kept in the fridge for months and used to make everyday meals. You can make your own curry pastes from scratch, and I’m sure they’re better than store-bought. But green curry paste includes a lot of exotic ingredients that I don’t have easy access to, like galangal, kaffir lime, shrimp paste, special types of chiles and lemongrass. I could probably drive around all over town and find the ingredients eventually – but instead I took the shortcut of buying a green curry paste (gasp!) from an Asian grocery store.
This is actually something my friend Sandra taught me a number of years ago – how to make a green curry dish. If you use low-fat coconut milk, this can be a very healthy, flavorful and quick weeknight meal. The basics are as follows;
1. Mix 1 can of coconut milk with about 1-2 Tbsp. of green curry paste (start with less, you can always add more, and depending on the brand it can be really hot!) in a saucepan and simmer gently. I added a Tbsp. each of brown sugar and fish sauce, plus about 1/2 c. chicken broth. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings.
2. Prepare the vegetables and/or meat that you will use in the curry. In this case, I used shrimp, onion, zucchini, carrots and snap peas. The ingredients themselves can vary widely, though it seems that chicken or seafood is most often used with green curry. The coconut and curry paste is what gives this dish it’s unique Thai flavor – so I feel free to use whatever mixture of stir fry ingredients I have on hand, bamboo shoots are really good too.
3. Either stir fry the veggies and meat separately and then add to the curry, or just add everything to the simmering curry and cook until veggies are tender and meat is cooked through. The latter seems to be more traditional, but if I’m using chicken I usually brown it first. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro and fresh Thai basil.