Thai red curry is the spicier sister of green and yellow curries. It has a bold flavor that works as both a sauce and a form of soup. Red curry chicken can be served on a bed of rice, or in a bowl with plenty of sauce. Both are delicious.
The red curry paste itself delivers just a “base level” of heat; to amp up the spice, you need to supplement it with red pepper flakes or fresh chilies (the recipe below uses red pepper flakes, which are easier to come by and much easier to add in small increments so you can fine-tune the heat to your liking).
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil such as canola or peanut
- 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
- 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken, cut into strips 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 8-oz. can bamboo shoots
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger root and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. As with most sauce recipes, we start by sauteing some aromatic vegetables.
Add the red curry paste and red pepper flakes, stir to mix, and cook for 1 minute. And then, of course, we “bloom” the spices.
Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the chicken, bell pepper and bamboo shoots, and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. This recipe is different from most stir-fries in that the chicken (or other protein) and vegetables are cooked in the sauce. You could cook the chicken and vegetables separately first, set them aside, and then add them back in after the sauce simmers for ten minutes. The simmering is very important recipe because it develops and inter-mixes the flavors of the sauce, so even if you cook the protein and vegetables separately don’t cut down on the sauce simmer time.
Stir in the green onions and lime juice; simmer for 2 minutes. Just enough to mix the green onion and lime flavors in without losing them entirely.
Remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro. Cilantro wilts instantly when exposed to heat, and we want to keep its bright flavor, so we add it right at the end.
Tips and suggestions:
- This recipe will create a mildly spicy version, what you might call “one or two stars” in a Thai restaurant. To make it spicier, add more red pepper flakes. Add 1/4 teaspoon at a time, simmer for 30 seconds, and then then taste until you reach the level of spiciness that you prefer.
- You can add other vegetables. Broccolini makes a nice addition, both in terms of flavor and color.