All of these recipes come from Racha Chaipanya (or Heang), my Thai food cooking teacher. I definitely do not claim to be an expert in Thai cooking, I am just sharing what I learnt. Also, I have just chosen a few dishes to share, this post would be way too long if I included them all. I researched and included some substitute ingredients if you can’t source all the Thai ones.
The base of all Thai cooking revolves around 4 flavours: sweet, salty, sour and spicy. The ingredients most commonly used to achieve these flavours are palm sugar, fish sauce, lime and chilli respectively. According to Heang, when these are balanced, your dish will taste perfect. Interestingly, many restaurants use MSG in their Asian food because it balances the flavours perfectly. But MSG is obviously bad for you so we didn’t use any.
Making curry pastes:
1. Make them! Heang says that the ones bought from the shop just cannot compare in flavour to making it yourself.
2. Don’t use a blender – a much richer taste can be extracted from the ingredients if you use grind them using a pestle and mortar.
3. Chop ingredients finely before grinding.
4. It takes elbow grease. A few extra minutes of grinding the paste will really make a difference to the final product. You know your paste is done when it has a smooth consistency.
RECIPE: RED CURRY PASTE (serves 2)
5 finely chopped dried chillies (soak in water for 5 minutes before grinding them)
1 tablespoon chopped galangal (can substitute with ginger)
1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass (only the white part of the stalk)
1 teaspoon sliced kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon chopped coriander root (use leaves if you can’t find the root)
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
half teaspoon roasted coriander seeds
half teaspoon roasted cumin seeds
half teaspoon roasted peppercorns
half teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shrimp paste (can substitute with fish sauce)
NOTE: Green curry paste is very similar except the chillies need to be fresh and green, and has the additional ingredients of 1 tablespoon fresh Thai basil and 1 teaspoon of chopped turmeric.
Phanang curry paste is identical to the red curry paste except for the addition of 2 teaspoons of peanuts.
1. Using pestle and mortar, grind roasted spices until a fine powder forms.
2. Add remaining ingredients and pound until a smooth paste is formed.
3. Paste can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen for 1 month.
RECIPE: RED/GREEN CURRY (serves 2)
Once again, the main 3 curries are very similar in ingredients so I will give the red curry recipe and then just add the small differences of the other 2 at the end.
100g boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon red/green curry paste
100ml coconut milk
3 torn kaffir lime leaves
2 small fresh Thai eggplants quartered (can substitute with a variety of other vegetables such as zucchini or beans)
1 teaspoon palm sugar (brown/white sugar is fine)
1 and a half tablespoon fish sauce (can substitute with soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sweet basil leaves and red chilli slices for garnish
NOTE: Green curry has identical ingredients (other than the curry paste obviously) to red curry, and phanang is the same except instead of using just coconut milk, you use 1 cup coconut cream and half cup coconut milk. So Phanang curry is a red curry that is just creamier and richer due to the addition of peanuts and use of coconut cream. I personally like to use coconut cream in all the curries because it makes them richer and creamier… but that’s not the traditional Thai way so don’t do it if you want to make a completely authentic Thai curry.
1. Put oil in wok, and add curry paste.
2. Bring it to a simmer and add a little coconut milk to stop it burning.
3. After about 1 minute, add the chicken, and stir until it is almost cooked.
4. Add remaining coconut milk, vegetables, and kaffir limes leaves.
5. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Season with sugar and fish sauce – (a balanced taste will first taste sweet, then salty and then spicy).
7. Sprinkle with sweet basil leaves and turn off heat.
8. Garnish with red chillies.
RECIPE: MANGO WITH STICKY RICE -my absolute favourite! (serves 2)
100g sticky rice (risotto rice can be substituted but try to fine sticky (glutinous) rice)
50ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut cream
2 tablespoons palm sugar (brown/white sugar is fine)
pinch of salt
50g sliced fresh mango
1. Soak the sticky (glutinous) rice grains in water overnight.
2. Drain the rice grains and wrap with cotton (or muslin cloth), and put into steamer (if you don’t have a bamboo steamer, a normal vegetable steamer can be used).
3. Put water into the pot for steaming, but make sure that even when it boils it won’t touch the rice (if sticky rice is boiled it turns into glue and becomes inedible).
4. Steam for about 30 minutes – the rice is done when it has become relatively transparent and slightly soft.
5. Heat coconut milk, sugar and salt in a pot, stirring continuously.
6. Add cooked sticky rice, mix together and leave for 3 minutes.
7. Stir one more time and then serve on a plate with slice mangos.
8. Pour coconut cram over the cooked rice sticky pudding.
Those are the recipes I chose to include because they are my favourites! I did learn stir frys and other Thai dishes, so if you want the recipes for those then comment below. Feel free to ask questions if something isn’t clear in the recipe, and please let me know how your dishes turn out if you decide to give them a bash!