Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fresh Thai Green Curry

While Charlie and I were in Thailand this summer we had a mean green curry in Chiang Mai at our guesthouse, The Eagle House.  It was so good that we had it once a day during our entire stay in Chiang Mai.  It was spicy, sweet and distinct because it contained little to no coconut milk, creating a dark green brothy consistency unparalleled by any other curry I've had.  We'll never forget it, and probably each keep trying and failing to recreate it.

We made our own Thai green curry last week with ingredients we rummaged for in Chinatown.  We found everything we needed even including the exotic pea eggplants that were in our curry in Thailand.  Some of the key ingredients came from Bangkok Center Grocery that we found down on Mosco St.  The friendly clerk was from Bangkok himself and seemingly knew just what we needed as he suggested other ingredients.  
We combined a few recipes to include a variety of ingredients in our paste, which forms the base and flavoring of the dish.  To create our paste we used 6 thai green chilies, 5 kaffir lime leaves, two stalks of lemongrass, a sprig of Thai basil, galangal powder, shrimp paste, garlic, shallots, ground coriander, cumin and black pepper.  All went into a food processor until it reached a paste like consistency.  We learned that shrimp paste smells strongly like feet.
We fried the paste with more sliced shallots and some oil in the bottom of a large pot.  After a few minutes, we added about 3 tablespoons of coconut milk, thinly sliced raw chicken and a few squirts of fish sauce.  We stirred until the chicken was coated in paste and let cook until it was a bit underdone.  We added the rest of the coconut milk, one can's worth of water and one can of chicken broth to create a thin consistency.  We also added the quartered pea eggplants, a regular sliced up eggplant and some string beans.  Towards the end we threw in the rind and juice of one lime, about a tablespoon of brown sugar and maybe 4 more stalks of thai basil.  This looked and smelled like it was coming together really nicely, but upon tasting we realized that although it had a nice bite, it tasted strongly of chicken stock.  
We added a bit more of each of the spices and a few more lime leaves in hopes that the chicken flavor would cook down and blend in.  The stock did end up toning down a bit, but next time I think I would just use more water instead of any stock at all.    
We served the curry with jasmine rice, and when it hit the bowl we were quite pleased.  Even though most recipes called for 10-12 chilies, our dish was nose-runningly hot with only 6.  Our rendition wasn't as sweet or as green as I remembered from Thailand, but for my first try I would say it was a success.  It was even better two days later as leftovers, after it had time to sit and steep further in the fridge.  I would suggest combing over a few recipes to make sure to include ingredients that some leave out and to get creative with the meat and vegetables; anything can really go in here!  Most of the spices and greens can be found at Whole Foods, but a trip to Chinatown saves some dollas adds to the fun.

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