Got a good Thai Green Curry recipe?

Just the sauce.

I’ve been DoorDashing some green curry from my favorite Thai place recently, and the dish comes with so much sauce that I have enough for 2 additional meals. I do my own stir-fry and then add the sauce-- it’s as good or better than the original dish. Which got me thinking… why not just make my own sauce? Can’t be that hard, could it? I tried, using the recipe on the Thai Green Curry Paste I bought, and it was OK, but nowhere near as the restaurant sauce.

Anyone got a good recipe? Spicy is good, too!

You’re looking for a recipe to make the curry paste from scratch? Do you have access to fresh Asian ingredients? If so, this recipe is great:

If you can’t find fresh galangal/lemongrass/kaffir lime leaves where you live, you probably won’t get the authentic flavour you seek, and should likely stick to buying the paste. Mae Ploy is a relatively good brand and widely available.

Curry pastes are perfectly acceptable and generally a better option unless you have access to all the ingredients that are needed for a curry paste. Another thing that’s common to do is to jack up a prepared taste with additional fresh ingredients to bring more brightness to it.

If you’re looking for a recipe, the Pok Pok cookbook has an excellent green curry recipe that leans towards the authentic vs the Americanized.

Making the paste from scratch is absolutely dependant on having access to the fresh ingredients.

If you can’t get them all, best to go for a good ready-made one.

At the very least you need kaffir lime leaves. It is so distinctive that f you have green curry and think it is lacking a certain something it is probably that. In the UK you can’t get fresh imported leaves so I’ve got my own tree in the living room.

Use chicken thigh fillets rather than breast. And thirding what others have said about the sauce.

Mae Ploy is my go-to, both the green and red varieties. And cheap as!

OK, I was not thinking of making the paste from scratch, but the recipe I had was just: add paste to coconut milk. I thought there might be a bit more than that. Maybe I need to play with the paste/milk ratio. I used 2 tablespoon of paste to one can of milk. Would white pepper be appropriate to add to give a little kick?

That’s exactly what I usually do. Mae Ploy paste and some fresh lemongrass, kaffir line leaves, cilantro, shallots, garlic, galangal … Just whatever is available and around. Kaffir line leaves and galangal freeze well, so if you can find them, they’ll last you a good while. (I have a Thai grocery on the way to my parents, so I stock up there.) And kick it up with some Thai or similar chiles if you like it hot. I also find myself adding a bit more fish sauce.

I forgot to add that the “recipe” I used called for some brown sugar, which I left out. I don’t like to add sugar of any kind to something that isn’t dessert. Does Thai Curry require some sugar? If so, how much?

On general principles for spice pastes you may want to mix the paste with a small amount of coconut milk and let that simmer for a for an hour or two before adding more milk to make the final sauce. The extra cooking time will infuse the flavors throughout the sauce. And you’ll probably want to kick it up by adding some additional chilis or other seasonings. The restaurant may be starting with a paste themselves and adding their own set of seasonings to make their own signature.

Missed edit window:

ETA: The sugar will extend the number of flavors that your tongue picks up as you taste the sauce. I would think experienced Thai cooks could work out the ideal balance but you could minimize the amount.

I make green and red curry a lot, and I agree that “jacking up” Mae Ploy will produce something as good as what you get in most restaurants. I’ve done it from scratch, which isn’t an issue because of the ingredients, as I live in East Hollywood, aka Thai Town. It’s more an issue because of the time it takes to pound everything in the mortar and pestle (or even with a food processor).

I’ve gotten the best results by picking up the following practices over time:

[li]Use fresh kha (galanga)–but you don’t have to mince it, which is a lot of trouble. Just cut it in long, thin slices, and allow sufficient time to simmer the curry.[/li]
[li]Lemon grass is good, but keep in mind that it isn’t the lemon grass which imparts the “lemony” flavor, but rather the lime. (The lemon grass is just for a subtle aroma.) So really, the lime is more important than the lemon grass. If you make a big batch, you can hold the lime during cooking, instead adding it whenever you reheat a serving. Otherwise, it does doesn’t keep well with the coconut milk over time. And instead of kaffir lime leaves, you can use the peel from limes.[/li]
[li]If you make red curry, it’s extremely important to get the freshest Thai basil you can.[/li]
[li]You really must use fish sauce to salt the curry. Anything else just won’t work.[/li][/ul]
As for adding sugar, sometimes it’s just a little, to bring out certain flavors, the same way salt does. [ETA: What TriPolar says above.] But there are some dishes–such as pad prik king, which is a particular way to make red curry–where the sweetness of the (palm) sugar, in contrast with the spiciness, is a major characteristic of the overall flavor.

When I first moved here I found in one of the Thai markets this great cookbook, which was published by ASEAN and written for the Thai women who married American service members during the Vietnam war and suddenly were whisked away to the U.S. before their mothers could teach them to cook. (For this reason, I guess, the English side of the pages isn’t very carefully translated, but the important information in English is understandable.) The book kind of disappeared, but now with Amazon you can get it again.

If you really want to cook Thai food, I strongly suggest this book (it has two volumes). It emphasizes the underlying principles for cooking Thai food. There are all kinds of recipes online, but they’re mostly pretty wimpy on the strong flavors, which are what you probably like when you go to a Thai restaurant. And if any Thai curry recipe tells you to use soy sauce (instead of fish sauce), you might as well throw it away.

If you’re looking to make it from the Mae Ploy curry paste:

Use one third paste more than recommended, fry paste first, till very fragrant, add stock, add kafir lime leaves, 2 cans coconut milk, palm sugar, a carrot, an onion and a stalk of celery. Let it boil down until it’s half the volume and the vegetables on very soft. Remove the vegetables and a little sauce to a blender and purée, then add back into the sauce. (Asian’s thicken their sauces often by boiling things down and adding puréed vegetables, it’s lovely, thick and not chalky!)

Now add whatever you fancy, green beans, broccoli, chicken, bokchoy, snow peas etc, in order from firmest to least firm until it’s all done to perfection. Vegetables still a little crisp!

Try this and I promise you will not be disappointed! (Now I’m hungry!)

Anyone care to talk about portions of the stuff they use to jack-up the paste? For example, kaffir lime leaves are recommended, but how many? Are these sold dried like bay leaves?

I find them frozen here. Just two or three are enough for about two pounds of meat.

I buy them dry and add four or five, and about a third again, extra paste as I mentioned. But then I like it very flavourful!

Curry paste needs to be fried to let it bloom before being simmered! the traditional way of doing it is to “crack” some coconut cream by simmering it until the solids and oils separate and then frying the paste in the coconut cream. Modern recipes now usually have you fry the paste in vegetable oil since canned coconut cream now usually comes with so many stabilizers it’s almost impossible to crack. If you have access to frozen coconut cream, it’s much fresher and stabilizer free and a superior ingredient.

Another addition to store-bought green curry paste (or sauce) - add apple cider to it. (Apple juice tends to not have enough ‘ooomph’, haven’t tried applesauce yet.) The apple pulls together and highlights the flavors nicely, and you can vary the sweetness by what type of cider you add. I usually add a bottle of (hard) cider, one that’s dryer if I’m using sweeter ingredients like carrots. Sweeter ciders (hard or soft) I pair with less-sweet ingredients like green beans.

And as mentioned, be sure to bloom the curry paste as one of your first steps.

Lots of good input. Thanks, folks!