February 16th 2004, the first time I ever tasted a Thai green curry. It’s pretty random to know the exact date, but it happened to be the day I started a round the world trip with my best mates. Fresh faced, 18 years old and entirely clueless. The curry happened to be the in-flight meal on a British Airways flight to Bangkok. Hardly the most authentic Thai experience, but buzzing with excitement for our travels (plus the realisation that beers were FREE for the duration of the flight) it was memorable nonetheless. Unfortunately, that’s the problem with the Thai green curry. In the UK, it’s so often mass produced and inauthentic.
To get the real green curry experience, make your own paste. Its flavour is so much more exciting! Plus you can tailor the level of heat to suit your taste. Personally, I feel it should be a fairly fiery dish and it’s amazing how widely different recipes vary in the level of heat called for, anywhere between 1 and 20 bird’s eye chillies! As someone who loves heat but has occasionally been accused of sitting on the fence, I opted for 10. For me, it was just right. A hot dish that definitely has a kick, but not so searingly hot that it masks all the other delicious flavours going on. Pairing it up with my coconut cauliflower rice was a revelation too. For anyone trying low-carb eating (or aiming to up the level of veg you eat) I urge you to try out cauliflower rice or couscous, it’s a game changer! It goes perfectly with pretty much any curry or chilli, is easy to make and healthy too. A final note, be sure to buy the best quality chicken you can, it takes the dish to the next level.
Inspiration for the recipe came from the guru of Thai cuisine, David Thompson. If you love Thai food, you need his cookbook ‘Thai Food’.
10 bird's eye chillies
½ tsp freshly ground cumin
1 thumb-sized piece of galangal, chopped (use ginger if unavailable)
2 sticks of lemongrass, chopped (1)
4 lime leaves, stems removed (2)
4 shallots, chopped4 garlic cloves, chopped
A large handful of chopped coriander
1 tsp chopped fresh turmeric (or dried if unavailable)
1 tsp shrimp paste
Ground black pepper
The rest of the curry ingredients
1 tbsp coconut oil
400ml full fat coconut milk (3)
150ml chicken stock
1 tsp fish sauce½ tsp palm sugar
Black pepper, a generous grinding
½ a lime
2 x chicken breasts, sliced 1cm thick
Small handful of Thai basil leaves
Small handful of chopped coriander
2 lime leaves, finely sliced
1 medium heat red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
Cauliflower rice (with leftovers)
1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped & grated using processor.
2 tbsps coconut oil
Put all of the paste ingredients into a small processor and blitz. Add a splash of water to loosen.
Heat coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Fry the curry paste for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk bit by bit, stirring thoroughly to combine before adding more (this prevents separating). Next, slowly stir in the chicken stock before adding fish sauce, palm sugar, pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. Taste and add a splash more fish sauce or pinch of sugar if required. Switch heat to low while you get the rice ready.
For the rice, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add grated cauliflower and stir thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper then cook for 8-10 minutes until soft and cooked through. Keep warm.
Bring curry back to simmer, add the chicken and cook for around 6-8 minutes or until cooked through. Stir through basil and coriander then plate up. Scatter with chilli and sliced lime leaves and serve with cauliflower rice…and a large bottle of Chang.
(1) – Peel off the toughest outer layers of the lemongrass. Slice off the base and discard. Slice finely up through the stem using the purple ring inside the lemongrass as a guide. Once the purple ring disappears, discard the rest of the stem.
(2) – These really are a key ingredient, seek them out fresh or frozen but when dried they’re pretty much pointless.
(3) – The best coconut milk has a thick layer of cream on top, I used Biona organic which is perfect.