Up until now, I have usually used a shop bought curry paste when making a Thai green curry. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it is actually really easy to cook a Thai curry without using a pre made paste and the taste is amazing.
I love a good curry like this chicken korma with pilau rice and a naan on the side. Takeaway curry is great, but I do like to know what goes into my food. Making your own curry means there’s no hidden ingredients and it’s much easier to make a Thai green curry from scratch than you might think.
My first experience of Thai food was back in 2001 and in Thailand. My mum, sister and I went there on a girly trip and fell in love with it. Green curry became a firm favourite of mine and I felt determined to recreate it when we arrived back home. I have since travelled to Thailand twice more and can’t wait to take the boys there, when they are a little older and we can handle the flight.
What is Thai Green Curry
Over the years, Thai food has become increasingly popular around the world with their green curry being a top dish served in many Thai restaurants.
Green curry originates from central Thailand, it is coconut based with the green colour coming from the use of green chillies and fresh coriander.
The spiciness can vary greatly and if you eat this in Thailand, the spiciness can be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to it. It is usually considered spicier than red and yellow Thai curry varieties.
The great thing about making your own Thai green curry is that you can choose just how hot it is. Meaning, the whole family can enjoy a green curry without the need for a litre of water on the side.
Substitutions for a More Authentic Green Curry
The original recipe usually contains shrimp paste instead of anchovy, galangal in place of the ginger and kaffir lime leaves instead of lime zest. But I wanted to make a recipe that is easily accessible for everyone, without having to buy any special ingredients.
You can, of course, use the more authentic ingredients if you can get hold of them. Substitute them as follows:
- Use a teaspoon of shrimp paste to replace the anchovy.
- Add 4 Kaffir lime leaves to replace the lime zest, dried or fresh ones are both fine.
- Use the same amount of galangal instead of the ginger.
You can also use a white, firm fish such as cod or bass in place of the chicken or try turkey steak. If you go with a fish curry, you can also add in some prawns too.
Add or omit your vegetables depending on what you prefer. You can add in some green pepper, aubergine, green beans, broccoli, courgette or sugar snap peas.
Recipe Tips and Guidelines
To alter the spiciness you can add another chilli or two or leave in some of the seeds. Be aware that chillies holds most of their spiciness in the seeds, so unless you’re used to eating super spicy food, I wouldn’t advise you do this.
I’ve kept this paste on the milder side, so that children will be able to enjoy it too.
The paste is freezable, once you have blended the ingredients together, you can freeze it. If you increase the ingredients by 3 and add the entire can of coconut milk to the paste, you can make 3 portions for the freezer and just add the a whole can of coconut milk when making your curry so none is wasted. Split the paste into 3, seal them in freezer bags and store for up to 3 months in the freezer.
How to Prevent Coconut Milk from Separating When Cooking.
When cooking with coconut milk, you may find that it has a tendency to separate and curdle. It will still taste great, it just may not look as appealing, so don’t throw it away. However, there are some things you can do to try and avoid this happening.
I find that the likelihood of canned coconut milk separating can be down to the ingredients that it contains. Some brands of coconut milk contains a number of chemical emulsifiers and stabilisers, which prevent the water and coconut cream from splitting. You will notice that upon opening a can of coconut milk, sometimes it has already separated, which usually means less of these added ingredients have been used. This is actually a good thing, it indicates a better quality of coconut milk, so think of it as a positive.
If this happens, the coconut milk is still absolutely fine to use, it hasn’t expired, so don’t worry about this.
To reconstitute the coconut milk that has separated in the can and give it some stability, place a teaspoon of cornflour or cornstarch in a bowl, add a little of the coconut cream (the solid, white part) and mix it into a paste. Once it is smooth, add the rest of the coconut milk slowly, in parts, mixing together as you go. Ensure everything has amalgamated each time, before adding more. Once you have combined your can of coconut milk completely, it is ready to use.
Adding cornflour to coconut milk will not only stabilize it but it will also make your curry sauce thicker and creamier. Traditionally, Thai Green curry can be quite watery, if you’d prefer a thinner, more authentic thai curry, shake the can well before opening it, omit the cornflour, mix it well before adding to the pan and exercise caution when cooking.
The key to helping prevent coconut milk from separating when cooking with it, is similar to when cooking with cream. You want to make sure you add the coconut milk to the curry last, cook it over a low heat, avoid boiling it at this point and stir the curry gently until the curry is warm and ready.
The separation can also occur if you reheat your curry. Again, it will be fine to eat and will still taste great, but it’s good to know that this can happen. Try reheating it more gently until it is completely cooked through and stirring it well. Avoid a microwave to reheat it, if you’d rather the sauce doesn’t separate.
Thai Green Curry FAQ’s
You can freeze the paste. Once you have added a 1/3 of the coconut milk and blended the ingredients together, you can freeze the paste for future meals for up to 3 months.
Yes, simply add more chillis to the paste, but don’t go overboard. Birdseye chillis are about 50,000-1000,000 on the Scoville scale, making them very hot.
All types of green beans work great with this dish, but you could also try adding aubergine, courgette or broccoli.
This curry pairs well with jasmine or sticky rice. You could also try it with noodles or treat it more like a soup and have it with naan or bread.
Thai Green Curry from Scratch
- 1 Stalk of Lemongrass
- 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Anchovy Fillet
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 Green Birdseye Chill deseeded
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- Thumb size piece of Fresh Ginger
- 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Cup Fresh Coriander (including stalks)
- 1 Can Coconut Milk
- 3 Chicken Breasts
- 100 g Frozen Peas
- 100 g Mange Tout
- 100 g Baby Corn
- Peel the ginger and garlic and along with them, place all of the ingredients except, the coconut milk, chicken and vegetables into a food processor.
- Add 1/3 of the coconut milk and mix until smooth.
- Place the mixture into a pan and heat until aromatic.
- Chop the chicken into chunks and add to the pan, coating it in the sauce. Continue to cook until chicken is cooked through.
- Add the vegetables and cook for a few more minutes until they soften.
- Turn the heat to low, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir gently until the curry has thickened slightly. Do not allow the curry to boil at this point as the coconut milk will begin to separate.
- Serve with jasmine rice.
Recipe Notes and Guidance
- To prevent your coconut milk separating or to reconstitute it, see the post for detailed advice.
- You can use a firm white fish or turkey steak instead of chicken. If using fish, try adding some prawns too.
- This curry has been made to be on the milder side for everyone to enjoy. If you’d like it more spicy add extra chillies or leave some of the seeds in the paste.
- You can use different vegetables if you’d prefer. Most green beans, broccoli, aubergine, courgette and green pepper will work well with this dish.
- The curry paste is freezable for up to 3 months.