One of Thailand’s signature dishes, the Thai Green Curry, has also become one of the country’s most famous culinary exports. With the spread of Thai cuisine throughout the world, people who have never set foot in Thailand may well have tasted a Thai green curry. Some food lovers will say that the green curry you may get in a Thai restaurant in your home country has only a passing resemblance to the real thing. That may be the case in some circumstances, but even in Thailand there are different recipes and ways of cooking this classic Thai dish.
In Thailand, the word ‘kaeng’ (also written as ‘gaeng’) refers to a number of dishes including ones which Westerners may describe as soups or broths. This means that the Thai version of a curry is often far removed from the type of curry you may get in other countries. The word ‘khiao’ means green and ‘wan’ means sweet so combining all three together in the Thai language gives you ‘kaeng khiao wan’ (‘sweet green curry’). A number of different ingredients can go into the curry, but chicken (kai), pork (moo) and beef (neua) are popular choices, so for example a green curry with chicken is known as kaeng khiao wan kai.
Recipe for Authentic Thai Green Curry
There are different interpretations of what makes an authentic Thai green curry. Whilst I may be an expert on eating green curries, I’m certainly not an expert on making them. However, a man who is an expert on Thai cooking is the highly respected Australian chef, David Thompson. He advocates that if you want an authentic taste you have to use fresh Thai ingredients combined with Thai cooking methods. This means using a mortar and pestle to make your own curry paste with ingredients including green chillies, fish sauce and galangal.
For most people outside of Thailand or Asia, sourcing fresh ingredients may be impractical no matter how keen you are to replicate an authentic recipe. However, there are some very good alternatives that will still give you a very tasty green curry. Take a look at the Thai green curry recipes in these books for ideas. For the sake of practicality, some chefs and cookery books suggest buying a pre-made curry paste or may recommend using a food blender instead of a pestle and mortar. However, if an authentic recipe is what you want then I recommend taking a look at the book ‘Thai Food’ by David Thompson.
Thai Food by David Thompson at amazon (USA) »
Thai Food by David Thompson at amazon (UK)
David Thompson’s Authentic Thai Green Curry Recipe:
3 tablespoons green curry paste (see below)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (nam plaa)
180g sea bass fillet or any white-fleshed fish, chicken, prawns, pork or bean curd
A few pea aubergines (optional)
2 washed and torn kaffir lime leaves
3 red or green chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
Handful of picked Thai basil leaves
For the curry paste
1 tbsp Thai bird’s-eye chillies (scuds)
1 tbsp chopped galangal
3 tbsp chopped lemongrass
1 tsp kaffir lime zest
1 tsp chopped coriander root
1 tsp chopped red turmeric
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp shrimp paste (gapi)
A few white peppercorns, ground and sieved
½ tsp roasted coriander seed, ground and sieved (optional)
Make the paste by finely pounding each ingredient in a mortar with a pestle before adding the next.
Heat the coconut cream, add 3tbsp of the paste and simmer over a medium high heat, stirring regularly until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Season with fish sauce then moisten with the stock. Bring to the boil, add the fish, meat or bean curd you are using together with the pea aubergines and simmer just long enough to cook through. Finish with the lime leaves, chillies and basil.
Thai green curry recipe published by The Times Online
Photo © Thaizer