Thai Green Curry
The elders told me of a time where Thai grandmas would wake up at 5am to spend the day preparing curry paste from scratch. A sunrise and a sunset later, these grandmas devoted to their craft would then have an epic curry dish ready for their families in time for dinner.
Fast forward a few centuries later and no one in Thailand really make their own curry paste anymore. Curry paste of all sorts can be found at the local markets piled in a heap and sold by the gram. Curry paste also comes packaged in long life cans; Maesri and Mae Ploy being the leading brands with Thai families. I, myself is a bit of a Maesri girl.
In Thailand we refer to the Thai green curry as แกงเขียวหวาน, which translates to sweet green curry. Therefore when flavouring the dish, make sure sweet is the leading taste. This is the differentiating factor between the Thai green curry and the Thai red curry.
I tend to make my green curry with traditional ingredients because that is what I grew up with but feel free to include your own favourites. I’ve dined out at enough Thai restaurants to have seen anything from broccoli to lychee fruits served up in my green curry. Each to their own :)
- 1kg chicken thigh fillet, cut into big chunky pieces
½ can green curry paste, Maesri brand
1 can coconut milk
1 can sliced bamboo shoot
6 Thai eggplants, top removed and cut into quarters
A few kaffir lime leaves (optional)
1 bunch of holy basil (Thai sweet basil)
Salt and sugar
Boil the bamboo slices for about 5 minutes. The water should be a glowing yellow. Drain the bamboo and set aside. We are trying to make green curry, not a glowing yellow one.
In a pot set to medium high heat, add a good lug of oil. When white wisp appears, add the curry paste and stir fry until fragrant. Work quickly as to not burn the paste. Add the chicken to the pot and stir fry until brown.
Cover the chicken with water. Once the pot starts to boil, season with salt (about one teaspoon), fish sauce (say 4 tablespoons) and sugar (around 5 tablespoons). Continue to simmer away until the chicken is tender, topping up with more water as required.
Add the bamboo shoot and eggplant making sure the water level just covers everything. Now is the time to add the kaffir lime leaves, I find it does not contribute much to the taste and that I can live without it. Keep simmering until the eggplant is soft. Do not over simmer because the eggplant will disintegrate.
This next part is very important. Coconut milk cannot be boiled for a long time. The composition changes and becomes thick and gluggy. Thai curries are supposed to be runny. This is why the pot has been simmering in absence of the coconut milk. Do not shake the can of coconut milk; just open it. Hopefully it has been sitting in the pantry for awhile undisturbed. If so, the top layer will sit what is known as the coconut cream. It’s very creamy indeed. Scoop this out into a separate bowl. The remaining liquid is what is known as coconut milk.
Seeing that we have already established the desired liquid level and flavour balance in our pot, there is no need to dilute the dish with coconut milk. Just stir through the coconut cream (about 4 tablespoons). Boil for about a minute more and then turn off the stove. Stir in the basil leaves.
This curry is great served over steamed rice, but for the ambitious, please read on.
Accompaniments such as salted duck eggs, salted fish or even the humble omelette goes real well with green curry. I tend to have at least one accompaniment with my green curry. Today I choose Chaom Omelette.
Fish sauce (half a teaspoon per egg)
Chaom is a very unique smelling vegetable found in Thailand. In rare cases I would find it in the Chinese groceries here in Australia but I would liken the chances of that to winning the lotto. Therefore I usually end up just having plain omelette.
Chaom is very thorny so watch out when handling it. It’s very important to get chaom young because the little side stems can become stringy to eat. Pick off all the little side stems with leaves attached, ditch the main stalk. Add the little side stems to the whisked eggs. Season with fish sauce and fry it up. Cut the omelette into squares.
In Thailand, it is not uncommon to eat the green curry with noodles. I actually prefer it to steam rice. I use the Tomoshiraga Somen noodles. Boil the noodles for 3 minutes and then rinse under cold water. Pinch the noodles a small amount at a time and twirl it up into little piles over a strainer. Let it dry out a little and it will hold its shape.
In a bowl, place few bundles of noodles. Pour the curry over the top and finish up with omelette squares. Hello delicious.