Serious Thai Green Curry

Okay everyone, it's time to get serious. Because for some reason, I have advanced to round two of project food blog on foodbuzz! Thank you for voting - it's all very exciting, but I'll definitely need your help again in order to proceed to round three, so starting tomorrow - please vote :) This post's guidelines involve cooking a "classic" dish from another culture, using ingredients you may not be familiar with. As they only allowed us 48 hours to come up with the dish and publish a blog post about it, I wasted no time and began brainstorming ideas on friday night as Phil and I sat on the train home from central London. I knew that I wanted to make something I'd never made before, something that uses unusual ingredients (but that is easily - and typically - made with shortcuts) that would certainly require some effort on my part.

And after finding some inspiration in the guardian once again, I decided to try my hand at Thai Green Curry, using authentic ingredients. I researched a few different Thai green curry recipes around the web to find out which ingredients were absolutely essential, and which aren't completely necessary. The list I made was short, but not filled with things you'd find in your average supermarket. Luckily, some more googling alerted me to a small thai supermarket not too far from my house! Living in London has its perks, I'll tell you.

My shopping list included:

  • lemongrass
  • galangal root
  • thai basil
  • fresh coriander
  • small shallots
  • jasmine rice
  • creamed coconut
  • tiny green bird's eye chilis

My list DIDN'T include:

  • chopsticks
  • penang curry paste
  • wakame

...but I bought them anyway :) The store was small but incredible! I'll definitely be stopping by next time I make any asian dish. They've got it all, and for a fraction of the price of a regular supermarket's specialty items.

If you're not based near a Thai or Asian supermarket, I'd recommend purchasing the harder-to-find ingredients online. One such place here in Britain is raan thai. In the States, try my thai mart.

The recipe below could work for a Thai green curry involving a variety of proteins: chicken, fish, tofu, pork. But we decided to go the vegetable route and stick to some seasonal veggies - pumpkin, aubergine, and mushrooms. Very earthy, Autumnal ingredients to go in the hot and spicy curry. You may notice two ingredients that aren't strictly vegetarian (since Phil and I both eat fish) - fish sauce and shrimp paste. These two add saltiness and depth to the curry. If you don't eat fish, feel free to substitute some soy sauce (i hope you're not soy-free!) and tamarind paste to bring a little something special to your dish.

Thai Green Vegetable Curry

Serves two

The particulars:

For the paste-

  • 20 bird's eye chilis (green)
  • 1 tbsp galangal root, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp lemongrass, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • ground white pepper and salt

For the curry-

  • 5 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 small pumpkin or squash, peeled, deseeded, and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small aubergine, chopped into small pieces
  • 8 medium mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 3 red chilis, deseeded and finely sliced
  • handful of thai basil leaves
  • handful of coriander leaves
  1. Pound the paste ingredients one by one in a pestle and mortar, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Shortcut: use a food processor instead. Even shorter shortcut: buy some good quality Thai green curry paste!
  2. Heat the coconut cream in a small saucepan, and allow to come to the boil. Add the curry paste and stir. Cook until the spices are aromatic and the ingredients are properly cooked - taste test.
  3. Add the fish sauce and sugar to taste, pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring back to the boil, then put in the vegetables. Simmer with a lid until cooked through. To create a thicker consistency, take the lid off and gently boil. then stir in the lime leaves, red chili and basil leaves. Serve with steamed brown rice and some coriander leaves.