First of all I would like to point out that I am not a cook of a chef, but an enthusiastic amateur.
I love Thai curry and love the complex favours that come with it and as my other half is a Thai, I had to see how it was made.
So I will pass on her secret, the first thing that surprised me that she used a pre made curry paste. It turns out most of the Thais do the same, but they are fussy about which paste they use.
Nui and I make a pilgrimage to a Chinese supermarket once a month and we spend at least an hour or so there. So there am I, walking behind Nui, pushing the trolly like a good partner, as she makes her way through the aisles, and now and then we stop, as she meets a few friends and does what Thai ladies do best, chat.
As we are living in the UK we can only use UK supermarkets, so if you are from another country have a look at some other Chinese / Asian supermarkets in your area.
Well, she will make her way through the isles, looking for Thai produce, as she will not make her food unless its from her own country , she says its the real taste. So if you want to have the real taste of Thailand (Well if you are not in Thailand obviously) try to use real Thai products. We go to the large Chinese supermarket chain “Wing Yip” ( http://www.wingyip.com ) it has a large choice of products from all over Asia , and the only place to find some the foods products Nui needs to cook.
The colour of the Thai Curry paste depends on the colour of the chilli they use for the paste, red chilli for a red curry paste, ete etc.
The paste Nui uses Mae Ploy Paste
Kaffir Lime leaves (If you cant find these lime juice will do. You can find dried Kaffir lime leaves in some supermarkets, but they don’t have the same effect to taste. Asian supermarkets have them quick froze and you can get them in large packs and they taste ace.)
Lemon Grass stick. ( This again you can get pre frozen and are a lot of available these days than before, so your larger supermarkets will most likely stock them)
Coconut Milk. (We normally get Aroy-D coconut milk , now this is cleaver marketing, as the Thai phrase Aroy Dee, in Thai means “Tastes good” so if you have a great meal the comment “Aroy dee”is a must and will make the chef or person smile. adding Mak Mak at the end of that will make it even more of a compliment as Mak sees more, and Mak Mak means more more, so if you say “ Aroy Dee Mak Mak” well you have had a great meal. The phrase “Rat Chat Dee” has a similar meaning but only regarding a drink or liquids.
Sugar, you can use cane sugar but it really does not matter.
Fish Sauce, again it really does not matter as they taste the same. Thais really use salt, they use fish sauce instead.
So, I digress again. I was hoping to see what makes a good Thai curry paste, but alas Nui buys pre made paste, so I will not be able to enlighten you to her secret, but you never know, it may be the subject to another blog, so keep an eye out.
So what do you need from this supermarket, that you cant get a your normal run of the mill supermarkets.
Thai Coconut milk, 1 Tin
Thai curry Paste ( I have included a photograph of one paste you can use. )
Kaffir Lime leaves
So what do you do, its really easy, I am not putting exact ingredients as this will all depend on your
own tastes, which is the Thai way, as they will add what they like, say more fish sauce if they like it more salty , more paste if its hotter , ore sugar its they like it sweeter, etc etc `I think you get the point.
So the first thing to do is heat a Wok, then open the tin coconut milk, add a few table spoonfuls of the milk to the hot wok, then add about a table spoonful of the paste to the coconut milk. This is important as the paste is raw and needs to be cooked to extract all the spices and flavour, if you don’t do this it will not get the full spicy full taste it was made to do.
If per chance, you have finished the curry and its not hot enough, you can ass more paste, but again you need to cook it off with some of the juices of the curry you have made, no not, just ass the paste, as you need to go through the cooking off procedure to get the taste.
Once you have cooked off the paste with the small amount of paste, it will go sticky, you will smell the spices come from your wok, then add your protein , chicken is best, (but if its fish or prawns add it at a later stage not now)
Add the chicken to the paste and cook the chicken in this paste, make sure th chicken is covered by the paste. When the chicken is cooked, and has taken on the paste, then you add the rest of the tin of coconut milk. Once you have done this , fill the empty coconut tin with water and add that amount to the wok, making sure you add all of whats left of the coconut milk.
Its at this stage you can add the rest of the ingredients, crush the lemon grass first to release the flavours, ad the line leaves, ( Some this cute them into small strips, but if you don’t like eating these, or trying to find them to take out as you are eating, just use the whole leaf. Add a tablespoon or so (To taste) of sugar, add fish sauce again to taste.
Let this simmer until you feel its ready , this will be 15 minutes of so. Check the taste and if you are not sure, then leave it as it is.
Add fresh Coriander leave to taste. Sometime people put nicely cut chilli on the top for decoration and taste, but again you may not know how hot your guests like their curry.
When you serve the Curry,( preferably with rice), place, a small bowl of sugar, a bottle of fish sauce , a small amount of crushed chilli and some lemon wedges. This way, as in Thailand , people can add what they want to their own taste.
This is common practice in the restaurants in Thailand,or as you are asking for your street food they will ask you how you like your food, hot, sweet, salty etc and will add whatever you ask to they for to your wishes.
I hope this has helped, and you enjoy your Thai curry.