Thai Green Curry is Phil’s favorite meal, quantitatively speaking, since he asks for it about once a week. We don’t actually eat it that frequently, but it’s always on his mind.
I have been making Thai Green Curry for many years. It began its life as a recipe from a cookbook called “James McNair Cooks Southeast Asian,” though I had not looked at that recipe in ages—until today. I still recognize the ghost of the recipe that has become a weeknight go-to for my family, but I like to think that my version has evolved from, or perhaps become a subspecies of, that original recipe.
Thai Green Curry is a very healthy, flavorful dish that comes together in about 35 minutes. My family enjoys spicy food, so I have geared my recipe more toward chili-heads—but this can easily be toned down for the heat-averse. I used to use full-figured (so to speak) chicken thighs for this recipe, but have since found that using off-the-bone meat is much faster. I now use cut-up chicken thighs, chicken breast—even pork, beef, or shrimp. I have been known to make a vegetarian version for Meatless Mondays.
Thai Green Curry can be gussied up with just about any vegetable you have available: my favorites are cauliflower and green beans. I have taken to garnishing the dish with cilantro and scallions (the green part, chopped into 1-inch pieces, then sliced lengthwise into narrow strips). Thai basil is also a great choice. The squeeze of lime just before serving really knocks this out of the park.
Most of the ingredients for Thai Green Curry are things that I keep in my pantry, fridge, or freezer, like coconut milk, green curry paste, fish sauce, lemon grass, and kaffir leaves. (Yes, you can make your own curry paste—but that wouldn’t be Flipped-Out Food-style weeknight cooking, now would it?) Make sure to use high-quality coconut milk, and not the low-fat variety (Chaokoh is my favorite). You want the kind that has cream at the top, because this is what you will use to heat your curry paste. Don’t shake it!
You should be able to find everything you need for this recipe at your local Asian market. Kaffir (lime) leaves can be a bit tricky: many markets keep them in the freezer, which is the best way to store them.
I suggest starting with 1 tablespoon of curry paste and building from there according to your heat tolerance. My husband Phil rates this among my top 5 dishes (although—by my calculation—there are upwards of twenty recipes in that category, heh-heh). I hope that your family enjoys this as much as we do! Bon Appétit!
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 13.5-oz can of good-quality coconut milk, unshaken
- 1 tbsp green curry paste (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 kaffir leaves
- 2 stalks lemon grass (tender white center only),
- finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly on the bias
- 2 jalapeños (or to taste), seeded (or not!) and sliced
- 2 small red Thai chiles, thinly sliced—IF YOU LIKE IT HOT!
- 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch sections, then sliced
- lengthwise into thin strips
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
- (or use shrimp, chunks of chicken thigh, or beef
- or pork cut thinly across the grain)
- Handful of cilantro or Thai basil, coarsely chopped
- Juice of half of 1 lime
- Clean chicken or meat under cold, running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Do the same if using shrimp, but peel and de-vein first. Heat a wok over medium heat. Swirl in the peanut oil and add the onions and carrots. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon grass; sauté for 1 minute. Move the vegetables to the sides of the wok. Scrape the cream from the top of the can of coconut milk and add to the center of the wok. Add the curry paste and gently stir into the cream. Sauté until fragrant. If using meat or chicken, add now; sauté until brown (about 5 minutes). Stir in the remaining coconut milk. Add the fish sauce, peppers, chiles, and kaffir leaves; stir to combine. If you are using shrimp, add it now.
- Simmer until the meat or shrimp is done (shrimp is done when it turns light pink and curls up slightly, ~5 minutes; chicken and meat will take a bit longer, up to 15 minutes). Add the lime juice and herbs, stir to combine. Serve over jasmine rice, garnished with the scallion strips. (Don't eat the kaffir leaves!)