Red Curry Chicken is a comforting dish that is easy to execute but still packs amazing flavor. The key is a good quality red curry paste, as it is the backbone to the flavor in this dish. I have used both Mae Ploy and also Aroy-D brand red curry paste, and both provide great flavor (and both I get from a local Asian market). The brand I didn’t like happens to be the one found at most groceries stores. Do yourself a favor, and find an Asian store near you or order online (it will last you a long time).
Coconut Cream Makes a Difference
Canned coconut cream provides a thicker and rich consistency than canned coconut milk, which is why I prefer it when making Red Curry Chicken. You can find this at some grocery stores or at Asian markets, which is where I usually get mine. If you are unable to find the canned coconut cream, then of course it is acceptable to use canned coconut milk. Noticed that I specified canned, not the stuff milk substitute in the dairy section.
If you can’t use fish sauce, you can substitute with soy sauce. But I really encourage you to use fish sauce in this dish. Using fish sauce in Thai cooking is amazing, it adds a bit of saltiness and that little extra something without altering the overall flavor greatly. I do admit that it does pack a potent smell when you first add it to the heat with your curry paste and brown sugar, but having the fan on your stove on high will help. After you cook the mixture for a couple minutes, and add your coconut cream, the fish sauce mellows out to the background of the Red Curry Chicken and you won’t notice any fishiness.
Cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs is a difference maker in cooking in general, and this is especially true for Thai cooking. That little final touch that brightens everything, while adding it’s own subtle notes, finishing with herbs can be a difference maker. Thai basil (again, you can find at Asian markets or grow your own) has some purple tones to the leaves and an anise/black licorice notes. Again, even if you usually don’t like those flavors, it adds it’s own flavor to the Red Curry Chicken. You can use sweet basil, if you are looking for a substitution to Thai basil.
When making red curry chicken, your red curry paste will greatly effect the flavor. You can customize with different vegetables.
- 2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste I have used Mae Ploy and also Aroy-D with great results
- 28 ounces canned coconut cream shaken, can substitute with coconut milk
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts and thighs cut into bite size pieces, about 1-1.5" cubes
- 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce can substitute soy sauce
- 2 zucchini (or equivalent amount of vegetable of choice) cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4inch slices
- 8 ounces caned bamboo shoots (slices or strips) drained (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Thai basil leaves can substitute sweet basil
- 1/4 cup green onions
- 6 cups cooked long grain rice
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat on the stovetop.
Add the curry paste, fish sauce (or soy sauce) and brown sugar to oil, combining thoroughly. You may want your fan on high, as when fish sauce hit the heat you can really smell it (but the taste is worth it). Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring consistently.
Add the sliced chicken, bamboo shoots and chosen vegetables. Simmer until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Add the chopped basil. Season to taste with more sugar or fish sauce as desired.
Stir in the the coconut cream until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until starting to simmer.
Add the chicken, hold at a simmer, stirring frequently. (If using onions or bell peppers for your vegetable choice, add with chicken.)
Once your chicken has started to brown on all sides (but not completely cooked), add your zucchini (or vegetables or choice), and bamboo shoots. Continue to hold heat at a simmer, stirring frequently until chicken completely cooked through.
Add the chopped Thai basil and green onions (if you want some for garnish, hold some off to the side).
Serve over cooked long grain rice
if you want to make it meat-less, use firm tofu, cut into small slices or add additional veggies.
Ideas for vegetables that you can try: broccoli, snap peas, yellow squash, or bok-choy. If you use onions, carrots or other more dense root type vegetables, you should add these at same time as the chicken (or a bit before if you like your vegetables softer).
I have used Mae Ploy and also Aroy-D with great results. I find these at a local Asian market. I have tried the brand that is sold at most grocery stores, and was not a fan.
If you use coconut milk, rather than cream, you will have a thinner red curry sauce. I prefer the thickness/richness that the coconut cream provides, but canned coconut milk (not the stuff in the dairy section) will work.
Interested in another Thai inspired dish? Try Soft Rice Soup
Want some other dinner ideas? Try Creole Style Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya