So almost exactly a month ago, I published a recipe for red curry paste and Thai red curry. To-day’s recipe is the close relation of that recipe.
…and to-morrow’s recipe (what—a post on a Wednesday!?) will have something of a surprise! Be sure to tune in.
Back to green curry—as a relation of red curry, it’s another great example of what I like to call a pantry recipe: something that’s easy and quick to throw together with ingredients that you most likely already have on hand.
You can make the paste and keep it in the fridge/freezer for weeks, throw it together with some coconut milk and produce, make some rice, and feed a crowd, no problem.
One of the hallmarks of Thai cuisine is its incorporation of five fundamental ‘tastes’: hot/spicy, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Either each dish or each overall meal will incorporate these flavours, and it’s this attention to detail and harmony that makes Thai food one of my top favourite cuisines.
In green curry, copious amounts of chillies in the paste bring the heat, limes are sour, coconut milk is subtle and sweet, soy sauce replaces fish sauce and shrimp paste as the salty, and the basil garnish is bitter.
Like red curry is so named, green curry is called such because it’s, well, green. Red curry paste is made using red chillies, and green curry paste is made using green curries. The recipes are really similar, although I think that I like green curry a little better. Red curry is certainly prettier, though.
Green curry is traditionally served as a soupier dish, and most often uses aubergine (eggplant) and pea aubergine. I made this with my friend Candace, however, who had recently come into some local organic broccoli and bok choy.
Let me tell you, that broccoli was freakishly soft. You know when you touch someone’s hair and it’s weirdly silky and perfect-like? This broccoli was the little green version of that kind of hair. We might have stood around for a few minutes just patting it and telling ourselves that it was so soft that our only option was to keep marvelling in its softness by patting it.
Because that’s totally normal.
So feel free to throw in whatever veges you have around—especially if they’re green!
In a somewhat related note, as much as possible, aim to use traditional Thai ingredients—chillies, galangal, Golden Mountain sauce, Thai basil, etc. I certainly didn’t because I couldn’t find all of these ingredients, but I swear that I will someday…
In a spice-designated coffee grinder, grind the coriander seeks and peppercorns. Place the ground spices, lemongrass, lime leaves, cilantro roots, galangal, garlic, shallots, basil leaves, coriander leaves, and green chillies into a food processor and blend. The mixture should be somewhat dry, so it might not blend together perfectly.
Add the Golden Mountain sauce and fermented bean paste (if using) and blend. The mixture should be a bit wetter now and more uniformly blended, but it shouldn’t be too wet—definitely more of a paste.
This makes about 1 1/2 cups of paste, and will store in the fridge or freezer for a while, so feel free to cover and store!
For the curry, heat a wok over medium heat. Add about a quarter of the coconut milk (half a can) to the wok and heat until just bubbling. Add 1/2 c of chilli paste and stir to combine.
Start with less curry paste for a less spicy curry—you can always work your way up to more. Remember that you’re still going to add three times as much coconut milk, as well as vegetables and protein, which will mellow out the curry.
I found 1/2 c to be perfect—not too hot—but I could barely handle tasting the first coconut milk/curry paste mix in the wok.
Add the rest of the coconut milk (including the awesome fatty creamed parts that try to stick behind—yay healthy fats!), then add the protein, letting it soak up some of the flavour for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, start some jasmine rice so that it’s ready at the same time as the curry!
Once the protein has hung out with the curry mix alone for a while, kill the moment by adding aubergine, zucchini, and/or whatever other vegetables you’re using and stir well to combine. Let that whole mixture chill out until the aubergine is tender. If you like your zucchini a little crunchier, then you could wait 5-8 minutes and add that in later.
When the aubergine is tender, throw in the basil (and bamboo shoots and lime leaves, if using) and stir. The basil will darken a little bit from the heat—don’t worry!
Plate and serve! I like to form the rice into a ball, spoon curry next to it, and throw some basil on top for a pretty presentation.
Garnishes: fresh basil leaves, toasted coconut flakes (just toss them in a pan over medium heat until just brown and remove from heat—they’ll continue to brown in the warm pan), or dried red chilli flakes
Goes well with: ooh coconut rice for a treat, fresh/spring rolls, and a lip-smacking white with a little effervescence