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Friday Foods: Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry
Photo by jetalone

The first time I encountered green curry was when my colleagues and I went to Bali Thai, for a fellow colleague’s farewell dinner. I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never had it before. I was surprised at how creamy, yet spicy it was. At that time, I was on a cooking binge so I searched and found a relatively simple (but tedious) recipe for green curry from scratch.

For the green curry paste
* 15 large fresh green hot chillies
* 3 shallots, sliced
* 9 cloves garlic
* 1 tsp finely sliced fresh galangal
* 1 tbsp sliced fresh lemon grass
* 1/2 tsp finely sliced kaffir lime rind
* 1 tsp chopped coriander root (or substitute coriander stems if unavailable)
* 5 white peppercorns
* 1 tbsp roasted coriander seeds
* 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 1 tsp shrimp paste (omit this is you’re going vegetarian)

For the curry
* 400 grams beef (a little less then 450g)
* 1 tbsp cooking oil (corn, safflower or peanut oil, not olive oil)
* 3 tbsp green curry paste (more if you like it spicier)
* 2 1/2 cups coconut milk
* 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
* 5-10 small fresh Thai eggplants, quartered
* 2-3 fresh red chilies, sliced diagonally
* 1/4 cup sweet basil leaf (optional)
* 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or salt if you’re going vegetarian)
* 1 1/2 tsp palm sugar (or regular sugar if you don’t have any)
* Sweet basil leaves and red chili slices for garnish

For vegetarian:
2 cups napa cabbage or chinese cabbage, shredded
1 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh or canned straw mushrooms
1/2 cup canned baby corn
1 cup tofu puffs (or firm tofu cubes that have been deep fried)
1/4 – 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed.


Toast the spices in a frying pan until they’re fragrant but not for too long as they burn easily. Combine coriander seeds, cumin and peppercorn in a mortar, pound well. If You don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a dry blending attachment that usually comes with the blender. Transfer to a bowl and put aside.

Pound the chilies and salt together well. You can use a blender for this, just try not to add in too much water. Add the remaining ingredients except shrimp paste, pound until mixed well. Add the cumin mixture and shrimp paste, continue pounding until smooth and fine.

Slice the beef into thin pieces, about about 1/3″ (3 cm) thick. Sauté the green curry paste in oil over medium heat until fragrant, reduce the heat, gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the coconut milk a little at a time, stir until a film of green oil surfaces.

Add the beef and kaffir lime leaves, continue cooking for 3 minutes until fragrant and the beef is cooked through. Add the remaining coconut milk, season with palm sugar and fish sauce. When the mixture returns to a boil add the eggplants. Cook until the eggplants are done, sprinkle sweet basil leaves and red chilies over, then turn off the heat.

Garnish with sweet basil leaves and red chilies before serving with hot rice.

Note: The last time I made this, I used all the paste that I made (yeah, all 15 sticks of chili) as I thought that the curry needed to be thicker and spicier. It depends on how spicy you want it. You can also substitute the beef with chicken or fish, though that changes the cooking time. Give it a go and tell me what you think.