Thai Chicken + Homemade Green Curry Paste
Spring has sprung! Here in Vancouver, things are green, the cherry blossoms have come and (mostly) gone, and things are allllmost starting to warm up. I can see hints of summer poking through the rain.
The warmer weather is making me crave some more tropical flavours, like Thai green curry. What I love about spring is it isn’t so hot that the mere thought of turning on my oven makes me break out in a sweat.
This week’s recipe is warm and comforting like a winter dish, but has spring flavours like lime and coconut. In order to make this Thai green curry stand out, I highly recommend you make your own curry paste (recipe below!), and you use a high quality coconut milk.
How to choose a high quality coconut milk
A high quality coconut milk will be at least 60% coconut extract, and will only have two ingredients - coconut extract and water. Some have thickeners like guar gum added, which typically means that the coconut milk is mostly water, and needs a thickener to achieve the correct texture. Since more water = less flavour, curries made with low quality coconut milk won’t pack as much flavour. My personal favourite brands of coconut milk are:
So go forth, coconut milk in hand, and make my Thai curry chicken with homemade green curry paste. You won’t be sorry.
Thai Curry Chicken + Homemade Green Curry Paste
For the curry paste:
2-3 Thai green chiles (you can also use 1-2 jalapenos), stems removed
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger or galangal
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp pepper (white pepper if you can find it)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon shrimp paste (available in most Asian grocery stores. You can leave this out if you can’t find it)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
For the curry:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, or 4 chicken breasts (I used chicken thighs)
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass
1 cup coconut milk
Rice, to serve
Preheat your oven to 375F.
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the curry paste, and blend until pureed, scraping down the sides as necessary. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of coconut milk.
Meanwhile, pat your chicken dry with paper towels, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid (if you don’t have one that is oven proof, you can always cook everything in a skillet, and then transfer everything to a casserole dish). Once the oil is hot and shimmery, add the chicken and cook until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes per side. The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point.
(A note about temperature for browning - my stove gets lava-hot, so I find my meat browns well on medium heat. Once the meat is in the pan, regulate the temperature so the chicken is sizzling nicely but the oil is not burning.)
Once the chicken has browned, remove to a plate. Add all of the curry paste, and saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and lemongrass and stir well. Add the chicken back to the pot. The chicken should be mostly covered by not submerged. If you need to, add more coconut milk.
Put the lid on your skillet or Dutch oven, or transfer the mixture to a casserole dish, and bake for 20-30 minutes (if you are using bone-in chicken, increase this time to an hour to an hour and 15 minutes), until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
Taste your sauce, and adjust for seasoning. Add more fish sauce if it needs salt, lime if it’s tasting a bit flat, and sugar if it needs more sweetness. Serve over rice, with cilantro and lime wedges to garnish, and of course some veggies on the side. I like to roast zucchini or broccoli while the chicken is cooking in the oven.