I grew up with a fairly narrow view of ethnic cuisines. Anything outside of Chinese take-out or “Mexican food” served at Taco Bell was considered “icky”. As far as I was concerned, Pad Thai was the only acceptable Thai dish to my American palate.
Luckily my tastes changed as I got older and was exposed more and more dishes and flavors from all around the world. I can’t imagine what life would be like now without all of the different cuisines I eat on a weekly basis. Thai food being among my favorites!
My friend introduced me to Thai curries at a restaurant in Hollywood that features a Thai Elvis impersonator who croons to you during your meal. She suggested I try her panang curry and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I’ve been experimenting with some Asian ingredients and attempting to make more authentic Asian meals at home. When I figured out I could make Thai curry at home, it was all over. Now, I can’t handle spice like a normal person (I’m from the Midwest, after all), but I do love the way this dish makes me sweat and my nose run. This recipe tastes authentic compared to what I’ve had in Thai restaurants, but I used ingredients that are easy to find.
This dish has all of the aspects of Thai cooking that I have come to love: sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Once you get the right balance of flavors, you can’t go wrong. I make this red curry at least every other week and I’ve made it enough times that it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.
Thai Red Chicken Curry
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic – minced
- scant 2 Tbsp. curry paste
- 2 chicken breasts – sliced thinly
- 1 red pepper – cut into strips
- 1 green pepper – cut into strips
- 1/2 yellow onion – sliced
- 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. corn starch + 1 Tbsp. water – whisk together to make a slurry (optional)
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 Tbsp. chopped basil (Thai basil is best, but Italian basil works in a pinch)
- Pat chicken strips dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add curry paste and garlic until it starts to brown slightly (about 1 minute).
- Add chicken to the pot and mix until chicken is fully coated with the curry paste. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Add coconut milk and water, and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 4 minutes.
- Add peppers and onions, simmering for another 4 minutes.
- If you want thicker curry (I always do), add the optional corn starch and water slurry now. Stir in and simmer until the curry has thickened.
- Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients through basil. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
Notes on this recipe: You can add any veggies to this dish, but peppers and onions are my favorite. I frequently see carrots, baby corn, tomatoes, snap peas, and green beans in other versions of this curry.
I’ve found that 2 Tbsp. of the curry paste is just right. Any more and it’s so spicy I can’t eat it. Any less and I can’t taste the curry flavor. If you can handle heat better than this Midwesterner, you can always add an extra teaspoon or two at the end of cooking.
You can make homemade curry paste or you can buy a giant tub at a local Asian market or on Amazon.com for about $5. One tub will last forever in the fridge; I’ve made about 10 curries with the same tub. Don’t skip or substitute the curry paste…it’s essential.
More traditional recipes call for kaffir lime leaves, but I find lime juice works just as easily and is a lot easier to find at the grocery store.
Do you cook a variety of ethnic cuisines at home? What’s your favorite to prepare?