We keep discovering new things when we cook with Thai food - and the latest we wish we'd realised sooner: you can make your own chilli paste so easily, and as spicy or mild as you like. Since we love a bit of spice, we started making our own and debuted it with this amazing Red Chicken Curry dish - enjoy!
What we're aiming for: Sharing bowl of a spicy or mild (as you like it) chicken curry for 2 people paired with a lovely aromatic rice
For the red curry paste (gaeng pet):
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 lemongrass stalks
1 teaspoon chopped Kaffir lime zest (replace with regular limes if needed)
Handful of coriander stalks with some leaves on
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons shrimp paste (in a pinch, we use fish sauce instead)
1 teaspoon salt
8 long red chillies, chopped*
*For a less spicy chilli paste, try deseeding the chillies first or using fewer chillies
For the chicken curry itself:
2 tablespoons oil (we like groundnut or sunflower oil)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red curry paste (see above)
225g (8oz) chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
225ml (8fl oz) coconut milk
225ml (8fl oz) chicken stock
2 large fresh red chillies, sliced diagonally into thin ovals (optional, depending on your desired level of spiciness)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 onion, roughly chopped
½ red pepper, roughly chopped
Optional: a handful of roasted cashews (we love to throw these into any dish if we have them in the press)
Handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks for garnish
For the rice (40mins): The rice should take about 40-45 mins in all so plan the cooking of your curry accordingly. We usually put the rice in the steamer* to start cooking and then work on getting the ingredients together for the curry.
- Put all the ingredients into your steam cooker in the order listed above. - Cover, set the timer to 40mins and let it do its work. - When it’s all done, the cloves should have risen to the top and be easy to pick out. - Spoon the rice into a nice serving bowl, season with a bit of salt if needed, and present alongside the curry bowl so people can serve themselves.
*If you don't have a steam or rice cooker and are cooking it in a saucepan, just cook the rice as you normally do but change the ratio from 1 rice: 1 water to 1 rice: 2 water, add the listed ingredients in before bringing to the boil, cover and let cook as usual.
For the red curry paste (10mins): - Using a pestle and mortar, grind the coriander seeds and cumin seeds. - Now start adding all the other ingredients on the list, one by one, adding to the mixture and getting a paste-like texture.*
*When you get to the chillies, your mortar might be too full - so a handy workaround is to now add everything into a food processor, with the chopped chillies, and pulse into a nicely ground up paste. (We don't do this from the start as you need to leach out the liquid from the ingredients and that's best done with pestle and mortar.)
For the chicken (10mins): - In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the garlic until golden. - Stir in the curry paste, mixing well. - Add the chicken and stir fry until just cooked through. - Add the coconut milk and stir well, bringing to the boil. - Add the stock and return to the boil, stirring constantly. - Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring in all the remaining ingredients and letting them heat up nicely in the pan.
Once done, sprinkle a bit of the lovely green coriander on top and present it all in a serving bowl in the middle of the table along with a bowl of rice for everyone to dig in. And if you have anyone sensitive to chilli heat, add a cooling bowl of salted and minted natural Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber. Enjoy!