A few months ago I spent some time in Thailand soaking up the culture and trying out some of the authentic local foods.
A definite favourite dish in Thailand was Thai Green Curry. Penang curry and red curry are also popular alternatives, but the fusion of flavours in Thai green, coupled with the milder nature of the dish make it a firmer favourite with westerners.
In Chiang Mai (north Thailand) I was lucky enough to take a cooking course with an authentic Thai Chef, and also lucky enough to keep my eyebrows after this:
During the lesson we learnt to make a handful of the most popular Thai dishes including Tom Yam soup, Chicken and Cashew, Banana spring rolls, and of course Thai green curry.
On the cooking course our ingredients were freshly sourced from the local market. Of course trying to find the same fresh ingredients in the super market back at home proved slightly more troublesome. When it comes to making an authentic tasting Thai green curry at home adaptability is important; you need to be prepared to experiment a little in the kitchen and switch ingredients around depending on your own ideas and taste.
However, there are some ingredients that should absolutely remain to keep the flavour authentic. I will now explore these in more detail...
Tips for the ingredients you should use:
I’ll start with the foundation of a Thai Green curry; the paste. I really recommend buying a pre made Thai green curry paste. You can make the paste yourself but for me the quality of taste doesn’t dramatically improve when you make your own (and because of the complexity of the paste making your own can be an arduous process).
When you have that, how much you use is a big deciding factor in getting the right taste for you. A heaped table spoon will probably generate enough spice to make the milder tongued cry, where as a tea spoon will probably not have enough of an edge to capture the taste buds of spice lovers-so somewhere in between the two is best for most.
Coconut milk is an easy must have. You can buy it in most supermarkets and it is completely necessary to make a Thai Green Curry taste authentic.
Fish sauce is recommended in authentic recipes. You can use oyster sauce as an alternative and I personally think this trade off doesn’t compromise the overall authentic taste so you choose.
Palm sugar is often replaced with ‘brown sugar’ in western Thai green curry recipes. My advice on this one is to try and get hold of palm sugar without replacing it with an alternative if you can, because this is one of the ingredients that really will make the difference between it tasting authentic or not. The more sugar you add, the less spicy the curry will taste. So remember to dip in and taste your flavours regularly, and adjust according to taste; don’t just follow the recipes orders on this one.
Kaffir lime leaves are an important ingredient. If you can’t find them fresh, most supermarkets stock them dried in the herbs aisle.
Lemon grass is also important in getting an authentic taste, so this is worth shopping around for if you can’t find it in your local store.
All other ingredients necessary should be really easy to find either in your own cupboards at home or in all good stores.
Over to you!
Ok, those are my tips. To make the most of them you will need to find a good Thai green Curry recipe, and then use the advice above to tailor it to suit your own taste.
If you have a good experience making one of these curries, or want to share your own tips, remember to comment!