I once asked my 7 year old nephew ‘Where does curry come from?’ His answer: Curry-ea! (I.e. Korea). I swear that kid is a genius. I’m not sure where it originated, but I’m a fan of curries from around the world. For a long time, Thai curry was my go-to dish and then it fell off the map. I tend to eat in waves, where I eat something a lot, get tired of it, and then drop it for a few years. Gladly, I’m back on the Thai curry bandwagon.
Since I hadn’t cooked it for so long, I kind of forgot how easy it was to make Thai curry. You definitely need a pantry stocked with a few Asian essentials like fish sauce, curry paste, and coconut milk, but after that, you’re set for many easy and delicious meals. It’s a simple dish to make that you’d likely order for take out, but could probably whip up at home in the same time it takes to order it and get it to your door. Plus it’ll save you some money and a few calories too, since this recipe doesn’t call for as much coconut milk as what restaurants probably use.
I’ve made it here with chicken and vegetables but have made it vegetarian before too and it’s just as satisfying. I swapped the chicken for extra firm tofu and some chickpeas. I like loading it up with fresh vegetables including peppers and zucchini and also canned bamboo shoot strips, however, you can really load it up with whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. Potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, sweet potato would all be great. Get crazy why don’t you.
I realize there are many ways to cook curry, and my way may not be the most authentic but it’s how we eat it at home. I’ve made it this way a zillion times and we both enjoy it so hopefully, you will too. I sauteed the vegetables beforehand so they wouldn’t get soggy from stewing in the curry. Also, you can tone down the heat by cutting back on the curry paste. I would say that 1/4 cup has a nice kick without melting your face off. Be wary of adding extra chili peppers – I got a few in one bite and wanted to do this.
I’ve been making this curry all winter long, and brought the leftovers to work during the week. I usually eat lunch at my desk and I have to say this dish was pretty aromatic. I’m pretty sure it drove my coworkers nuts as the coconut-y smells wafted over the cubicle walls. How do I know this? Because they told me. Every time. Sorry guys. Here’s the recipe so you can make it and bring it for lunch too.
Thai Chicken Curry with Vegetables – Serves 4 to 6
- 1 can coconut milk
- Canola or other neutral oil for stir-frying
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1/8″ rounds (or half moons for larger zucchini)
- 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup Thai curry paste (see note below)
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ strips
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 cup canned bamboo shoot strips, drained
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
1. In large frying pan or wok, bring coconut milk to boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Do not stir. Coconut milk will thicken.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick wok on medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil. Add red pepper and stir fry until pepper is tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add peppers to plate and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil to wok and add zucchini. Stir fry for a few minutes, or until slightly golden brown but still crisp. Add to peppers plate and set aside.
3. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Add onions and curry paste. Stir fry together for a couple minutes. It will become very fragrant (turn your fan on if you can). Add chicken and saute for a minute so chicken is coated. Add water and coconut milk. Add lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce and stir everything together. Bring to boil, lower heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
4. Add bamboo shoots, zucchini and red peppers and stir together. Remove from heat. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Thai Curry Paste: I like the brand Mae Ploy a lot, and you can find it at most Asian grocery stores. Thai Kitchen also has some nice pastes too. Also, I’ve used yellow curry paste here but you can use red or green curry paste as well. I’m a fan of all of them. I don’t discriminate. If using red curry paste, omit sugar. If you want it less spicy, use less curry paste.