Did you know that each region of Thailand has it's own distinct style of cooking and flavours such as:
•Kon Isarn: People in the northeast region of Thailand like to eat spicy and salty dishes.
•Kon Pak Klang: People in the central region like sweet and mild tasting.
•Kon Nua: People in the northern part of Thailand love mild but slightly spicy.
•Kon Tai: Southern region, are the only people who eat really spicy food.
The common Thai dishes which most of us would have tried are likely to be green curry, red curry, mango/papaya salad and tom yam. It's not really difficult to cook any of these dishes at home but it is essential that you get the freshest ingredients and your paste (to work off from) is good.
Thai Red Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Phed Kai Sai Nawmai)
(Serves 4 - 5)
Red Curry Paste
Prepare this authentic Thai curry paste to make the Thai Red Curry with Chicken recipe below. You can freeze any leftover paste up to 2 months in a zip lock bag, in tablespoon size portions, making it easy to add to future soups or curries as needed.
Ingredients for the Paste:
5 dried whole red chilies, seeded and soaked
5 shallots, sliced
10 cloves garlic
1 tsp galangal, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon grass, sliced
1 tbsp kaffir lime rind, finely sliced (optional)
2 tsp chopped fresh coriander root
5 black whole peppercorns
1 tbsp ground roasted coriander seed
1 tsp roasted cumin (find out how to dry-roast spices)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp shrimp paste
1) Pound together coriander seeds, cumin, and peppercorns to obtain a fine paste in a mortar and pestle. Spoon into a bowl and put aside.
2) Pound dried chilies and salt together, add galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime rind, coriander roots, garlic, shallots and pound well. Add the cumin mixture, follow with shrimp paste. Pound until everything is well-combined.
This authentic spicy coconut milk based red curry uses homemade red curry paste. Flavored with both fresh and dried spices, kaffir lime leaves and fresh sweet basil leaves it is a harmonious dish with chicken. Finish the cooking with the addition of fish sauce to taste and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Ingredients for the Curry:
1 lb boneless chicken breast
1 can bamboo shoots, sliced
3 tbsp red curry paste
2 cups coconut milk
2 fresh red chili, sliced diagonally
1/2 cup Thai sweet basil leaves (bai horapah), torn
2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp palm sugar
Thai sweet basil leaves (bai horapah) for garnish **
1) Wash the chicken, slice diagonally into 1/2 cm thick, 3 cm wide and 3 cm long pieces. Thinly slice the bamboo shoots (if not already sliced).
2) Pour 1 cup of coconut milk into a wok. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Add the curry paste, stir until red oil comes to the surface. Add the chicken and saute until it turns white and is cooked through.
3) Add the remaining coconut milk, follow with the bamboo shoots. Season with fish sauce, sugar, and salt and bring back to a boil. Sprinkle with kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and sweet basil leaves. Turn off the heat. Arrange on a serving dish and garnish with sweet basil leaves before serving.
** If Thai sweet basil is not available, either omit or substitute other fresh herbs such as coriander or European basil.