Thai green curry

While I was in the middle of writing about the best vegetarian green curry of all time, Alex and I boarded a plane and then a ferry, trading Bangkok for Koh Phi Phi.

In Koh Phi Phi, my blog plans were thwarted.  Our hotel didn’t really have internet.  So, we focused on SCUBA diving, hiking  and a bit of lounging on the beach…

One of the fun things about going to the beach in Thailand is that the beach-side restaurants sell Thai food (shocker!).  After a snorkel, we’d crawl out of the water, land on some chairs in the sand, and order up soups and curries.

As a rule, it’s a little difficult to find vegetarian Thai food.  There’s fish sauce and shrimp paste in a lot of dishes.  In Koh Phi Phi I typically asked the cooks to leave out the “nom-pla” (my phonetic interpretation of the Thai word for fish sauce), which they were fine with.  It was a bit harder to convince them to exclude the shrimp paste, though, since it’s in tom yam paste (a key curry ingredient).  Of all the dishes we’ve encountered, the one that the cooks are most happy to vegetarian-ize is green curry, which doesn’t ever have tom yam paste.

So, now we’ve had a lot of green curry!  And I feel confident saying that the recipe we learned in vegetarian cooking school makes the freshest and most full bodied vegetarian green curry we’ve eaten.  It’s great.  We hope you like it, too.

But, before sharing this recipe, I should mention that great Thai cooking is as much about technique as a good recipe.  Thai food is cooked quickly at high heat.  In order to keep the pace rapid, the best thing to do is measure out your ingredients ahead of time.  Then, you can quickly toss everything into the wok as it’s needed.

Other than prepping ingredients ahead of time, though, there are no more secrets.  Thai food is so easy!  In fact, that was the most fun thing to learn at cooking school — we really can cook knockout Thai food at home.  You can, too!

Thai green curry
Adapted from May Kaidee’s Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook

Makes 1-2 servings

  • 1 T vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 t green chili paste*
  • 7 T coconut milk (added in three stages: 1 T, 3 T, 3 T)
  • 1 c coarsely chopped mixed vegetables (e.g. cooked butternut squash or cooked sweet potato, green beans, onions, Thai eggplant, tomato, cabbage)
  • 6 T water
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 1 t evaporated cane juice
  • 1 t fresh chopped mint, cilantro and/or Thai basil

Add oil to a wok.  Bring to a medium-high temperature. Add chili paste, 1 T coconut milk, mixed vegetables.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add 3T of coconut milk, water, soy sauce and sugar.  Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken, and then turn off heat.

Add 3 T coconut milk (this gives the dish a fresher coconut taste than if we were to add all the coconut milk at once in the beginning).  Garnish with chopped herbs.

Serve alone, with steamed rice or with sticky rice.  We learned that many Thai eat curry for breakfast and sop up the sauce with balls of sticky rice.  Fun!

*Green chili paste
Adapted from May Kaidee’s Thai Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbook

You can buy this premade in a store, but its flavor will be much less pungent.  Instead, I suggest you make your own.  It’ll probably require a trip to an Asian market, but you can freeze what you don’t use in an ice cube tray, so you have a perfectly sized amount for the next time you make green curry.

  • 4 T small, green Thai chilies (or the closest chili you can find — ask your grocer)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 T galangal (or regular ginger root, if you can’t find galangal)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 T vegetable/canola oil
  • 2 T onion
  • 2 T garlic
  • 2 t miso paste

Add chilies, lime leaf, galangal and lemongrass to food processor (or blender or mortar and pestle).  Pulse until finely chopped.

On high heat, in a dry pan toast cumin for 1 min.  Add to food processor.

Add oil to pan at a medium heat.  Sautee onion and garlic until translucent, approximately 2 min.  Add to food processor.

Add miso to food processor.  Pulse until you have a smooth paste.

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7 thoughts on “Thai green curry

  1. Green Curry has got to be one of the best comfort foods, though I ‘ve never made my own. Thanks for sharing the recipe and lighting a fire under my butt to give it a try at home.
    We are heading to Bangkok in just a few days and I plan on eating my fair share of green curry there. Your post makes me all the more excited to get to Thailand and get eating.
    Happy travels to you!
    -Erin

    • Yes! I’d say there’s an small chance that you’ll run into them at Russo’s, but when Alex and I were last in Cambridge the only place we were able to find them was Super 88, a huge Asian market in Allston (actually, it’s worth a trip if you haven’t been before — lots of interesting stuff). They have such an awesome flavor…

  2. Long overdue comment. This was the best and fastest dinner I have made, maybe ever. I made rice and chopped the veggies (threw asparagus in the mix because it was in season) in the afternoon when I got home. Used Thai green curry paste because we already had it. Got some work done, then when dinner time rolled around it was done in minutes. Nice and hot. Thanks! I will make the curry from scratch one day, but… waste not, want not, right?

    • This is such a fantastic comment! Thanks! Really glad it worked well for you. Such a good idea to prep the veggies ahead of time. Actually, you’re inspiring to prep some veggies this weekend so I can quickly whip up the curry mid-week…

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