Disclaimer: Delete Mai Thai and other Thai restaurants off your phone’s Contact list, because once you see how easy and delicious it is to make this curry, you’ll never call them again!
I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).
Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:
Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.
This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.
If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.
Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, but is unfortunately not available at Safeway, TJ’s, or Whole Foods. The next best brand Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.
Time: 45 minutes
2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable
2 13 oz cans of coconut milk
1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)
1 medium eggplant
3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)
1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)
1 red bell pepper
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded
1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.
2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.
3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.
4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.
5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.
6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.
7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into thin strips.
8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.
9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or just by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves to add verdant color, fresh flavor, and texture. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh chilies.