Happy Memorial Day weekend! I would like to greet you with the simplest red curry recipe in the world. I’d admit that I had not had Thai food or any type of curry before I moved to the US. But I immediately fell in love with Thai curries and started to cook them at home. Over the years, my recipe gets simpler and simpler – it is reduced to the most basic 5 spices that gives you the “Thai” taste. But in my opinion, simpler spice combination really makes the ingredients shine. When you use different proteins and veggies, the curry is supposed to taste different. And this recipe is just that.
This is a really simple dish that takes only 20 minutes to cook. It can be paired with rice or pasta, and can be cooked with whatever you can find in the fridge. It is a perfect Thursday night dinner when all left in the fridge is half an onion, a few leaves of lettuce, and half block of Tofu. That is when this recipe comes to rescue! Do not worry about proportions at all – it taste good regardless if it is protein heavy, veggie heavy, or no protein at all!
Step one: Cook your rice/pasta
This recipe pairs great with rice. It is flavorful, comes with lots of juice, and can be reheated many times. If you like your curry on rice too, remember to cook the rice first, before you start cropping and preparing for this dish.
Step two: Prepare your protein source
I had half bag of frozen shrimp today, so it is what I used. I have used slices of beef, chicken, duck, pork, fish and tofu. Shrimp and fish are easy to cook through. So if you are cooking curry with shrimp and fish, there is no need to pre-cook them. But if you are interested in trying this recipe with sliced beef, pork, duck or chicken, or Tofu, I recommend pre-sear the protein very fast in a very hot wok with a tablespoon of oil. You can leave the oil in the wok for the next step.
Step three: Gather your veggies
I like to use pepper, snow pea, bamboo roots, and mushrooom in my curry. Today I used celery because it is the only veggie I had in the fridge. It paired with shrimp surprisingly well!
Rinse and crop your veggies to the size that is slightly smaller that your sliced meat/a single shrimp. I recommend cropping them thin to save cooking time.
Step four: Gather your spices
Crash a few gloves of garlic, grate some ginger (optional), and crop some onion. If you want to eat onion directly, crop them into big slices. Crop the onion fine if you want them to disappear.
To make something Thai you really only needs a few things: coconut milk, red curry sauce, fish sauce, and some kind of sugar. Palm sugar is the classic choice of sugar for Thai food, and using other form of sugar does impact the taste a little bit. But using brown sugar or raw sugar will still be pretty close. We only have raw sugar in the house (Costco) – that is what we use in backing, coffee, and cooking. So that is what I used.
As for the coconut milk, you can use any brand in your local grocery store. I got mine from Amazon and it is my add-on items, so I stick to the Thai kitchen brand. But really any coconut milk will do. If the milk has separated in the can, just stir it during the cooking and it will be fine. No fuzz.
What influence the taste of a Thai curry the most to me, is the fish sauce. The best one I’ve had, recommended by a Vietnamese friend who cooks very well, is the three crabs fish sauce – that is why it is so expensive! Squid is a decent alternative and much cheaper.
Step five: Throw everything in the wok…
Just kidding. But I’d say that now it comes the easy part: cooking.
00:00 mins – Add one tablespoon of oil into your wok, or use the left over oil from searing the meat. Brown the onion for a couple minutes
03:00 mins – Add garlic and 1.5 table spoon of of red curry paste, give it a quick mix.
04:00 mins – Add 1 can of coconut milk, half a cup of water (or stock if you want it to be richer), 1.5 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar, bring to boil.
08:00 mins – Add veggie. Cover the pot and simmer for 6 mins
14:00 mins – Add pre-seared meat or tofu, or raw shrimp/fish, simmer for another 5 mins until the meat cooks through
19:00 mins – Dissolve 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in 2 tablespoon of cold water, add into the soup. Turn the heat off but leave the wok on the stove, give it a quick stir. The soup will continue to thicken.
20:00 mins – Add the juice from a lime. Taste the soup. The “Thai” taste should be well balanced among fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice, If it is too sweet, add a bit fish sauce. If it is too salty, add more sugar. If it is too sweet and salty, add lime juice.
Enjoy over rice/pasta.