Have you ever wondered how easy it is to make Thai red curry? It so easy to make and comes together quickly. My family loves it for a quick, healthy, and delicious weeknight meal.
My best friend spent part of her childhood in Thailand. I didn’t meet her until many years later, but she has carried a love of Thai food with her ever since living there.
We met when I moved into the apartment next door to her and her family. She taught me how to make some of the foods she’d learned to make from living abroad and from other people she knew that were from different cultures.
Even way back then, (and yes, at this point it was way back then😂) I wanted to learn how to cook better food and make things from scratch. I was just beginning that journey, and my wonderful friend was there to feed the fire.
We decided to make dinner one day together and Thai red curry was on the menu. Eating it at a restaurant was one thing, learning how to make it just seemed daunting. I quickly found out that it wasn’t. Because it’s so easy, it’s now one of my favorite quick and easy meals to whip up on weeknights when I’m tired from a day in the office.
What’s Needed to Make Thai Red Curry?
My bestie taught me the foundation for the perfect Thai red curry is a good curry paste and coconut milk. You can find these ingredients at almost any grocery store that has an Asian food section. My favorite curry paste is by a company called Maesri. Maesri Red Curry and Maesri Panang Curry are my favorites of theirs, but this dish uses red curry.
Green curry, yellow curry, and masaman curry are your other curry choices. You’ll find that each one has a little bit different flavor and pairs well with different vegetables.
The other must have for curry is vegetables. I typically use green bell peppers, carrots, and cauliflower in my curry. Cauliflower isn’t traditional in this dish, but I find that it takes the flavor of the curry really well so I use it every time I make it now.
My friend also likes to use bamboo shoots and you can also find those in in most stores along side the curry paste. My husband isn’t a big fan of them so I don’t typically use them when I make any kind of curry.
Fish sauce gives the curry a nice depth of flavor with a bit of saltiness. And last, but not least, is topping it with Thai basil. I don’t always top it with Thai basil, but if you have some it really does finish the dish nicely.
I like meat in my curry. It isn’t necessary, but to this omnivore it just isn’t a complete meal without some sort of meat. If you don’t eat meat, you could use tofu as well. My meat of choice is chicken when I make red curry. Lamb, beef, shrimp, salmon, and even shredded pork would work really well in this dish too.
The Secret to a Great Curry
The secret to making the most delicious curry is a little bit of sugar. Yes, that’s right, sugar. The curry paste has just enough bitter in it to give you a bit of bite when you eat it. Not in a bad way, but in a way that’s going to make you wonder why it doesn’t taste as smooth as it does when you eat it at a restaurant. Take a little bit of sugar, about a teaspoon will do, and add it to the curry. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Making the Curry
Put about a tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven type pot and heat it over medium heat. I like to use a coconut MCT oil I get from Azure Standard, but a good quality olive oil, avocado oil, or lard would be great as well.
While the oil/fat is heating in the pot, cut the meat. I’m using chicken for this dish so I cut my chicken into bite sized pieces.
Once the oil is hot, add the chicken or meat of your choice to the pot. You’ll want to cook the chicken until it is about half way done then add about an ounce, or 2 tablespoons of curry paste. Mix that into the chicken so the chicken will take a little more of the flavor as it cooks.
Cut up the vegetables while the chicken cooks. You could use some frozen or canned vegetables if you’d like to speed up this process. I’ve only ever used fresh vegetables with curry, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use home canned carrots instead of fresh. If using canned vegetables, make sure to add them in towards the end since they’re already cooked.
When the chicken almost fully cooked, add 1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk. I like to use an organic coconut milk to avoid all the extra ingredients that many coconut milks have in them. Ideally, look for one that’s just coconut milk. One with coconut milk and water, like mine, is perfect too.
Mix the coconut milk into the curry. At this stage, you can add more curry paste if you’d like. I always do because I like mine to be a bit stronger. I start with another ounce, then add even more later. But if you like it more mild, you may choose not to add more, or just add a little bit. If you’re unsure how you like it, don’t add more yet.
Add the vegetables, a teaspoon of sugar, and about a teaspoon of fish sauce. Let simmer over medium heat until the vegetables are a little softened, but not mushy, and the chicken has finished cooking.
Serve over Jasmine rice.
Adjusting the Spice Level Of Thai Red Curry
Before you serve dinner, taste the curry and add more curry paste if you want it stronger. If you taste it and decide it’s too strong, you can add a bit more sugar or add more coconut milk. But don’t add too much sugar, you don’t want the curry to be sweet.
Adding more coconut milk will dilute the curry paste, making it taste a little less strong. If you have one or two family members that like it more mild you can take out their portion, then add more curry paste to what’s left to bring up to the spice level to what everyone else likes.
Different curry pastes have different levels of spice. Try out different brands and find the right one for your family. Thai Kitchen, the type I used tonight, tends to be a bit less spicey than Maesri but still has good flavor. Look at your local grocery store and try whatever they carry. You never know what will end up being your favorite!
Try Some Of My Other Recipes:
- 1 pound of chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, or other meat of choice
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
- 2-4 oz of red curry paste
- 1 carrot
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce
- Thai basil for garnish
- Heat oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat
- Cut chicken into bite sized pieces
- Add chicken to the pot once oil is hot
- Chop vegetables into bite sized pieces
- When chicken is about half way cooked, add about 1 oz of red curry paste and mix
- Once chicken is almost all the way done add coconut milk and 1 more oz of red curry paste
- Add vegetables, sugar, and 1 tsp fish sauce
- Simmer until chicken is fully cooked and vegetables have softened but are not mushy, about 15-20 minutes
- Taste, if you would like your curry stronger add more red curry paste. If you'd like it a little salter add another tsp of fish sauce
- Serve over jasmine rice and garnish with pieces of Thai basil