Tag Archives: Thai

Thai Red Curry of Pork with Peanut

The addition of peanut butter to red curry paste and coconut makes this a rich, satisfying dish. Like most Thai food, it features a balance of four elements: spicy, sour, sweet, and salty. It should be fairly spicy but you can adjust the heat level by adding more or less curry paste. I use prepared red curry paste I buy at my local Asian market but you can make your own. The peanut butter should be natural, i.e. without added sugar and preferably unsalted. Either smooth or crunchy is fine. I prefer to make my own coconut milk because I find it lighter than canned. If you use the latter, consider adding a bit of water to it. The pork should be fairly lean; I use sirloin but tenderloin would work equally well, albeit at higher cost. Serve modest portions over steamed jasmine rice.

(Recipe adapted from BBCGoodFoodShow.com)

Serves two generously



350 grams (12 ounces)

Unsweetened dried grated coconut

100 grams (1 cup)

Boiling water

600 milliliters (2½ cups), divided use

Vegetable oil

as needed

Red Thai curry paste

50 to 60 grams (3 to 4 Tablespoons)

Peanut butter

60 grams (2 to 3 Tablespoons)

Fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped

40 grams (½ cup)

Spring onion, thinly sliced

60 grams (small bunch)

Palm sugar or light brown sugar

15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon)

Lime juice

One lime, about 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Thai fish sauce

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Dry roasted unsalted peanuts

50 grams (⅓ cup)

Coriander leaves, chopped

for garnish


Cut the pork into 25-mm (1-inch) cubes then slice each cube across the grain 3-mm (⅛-inch) thick.

Put the grated coconut with 250 milliliters (1 cup) of the water into a blender. Carefully blend on high speed for about a minute.

Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pot (I use a cast iron chicken fryer). When hot but not smoking, strain in the coconut milk, reserving the coconut. Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter. Fry, stirring constantly until the water has been driven out and the oil starts to separate.

Stir the coriander stalks and spring onion into the mixture then fold in the pork. Stir fry for a few minutes until the pork has lost its exterior pink color.

Return the coconut to the blender jar, add the remaining boiling water, and blend on high speed for about a minute as before. Strain the milk into the pot and discard the coconut. The liquid should just cover the pork. If not, add a bit of water. Stir in the palm sugar, lime juice, and about half of the fish sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork is tender. Check the seasoning and add a bit more fish sauce if it needs more salt.

Just before serving, stir in the peanuts. Ladle over hot jasmine rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Thai Chicken and Summer Squash Curry

Known in French as courgette, summer squash is one of my favorite vegetables. There are so many ways to prepare it from stewed into ratatouille to sliced and grilled or even just cubed and eaten raw. And, if you are careful not to overcook it into mushy bits it is very good in light Thai-style curries. I suspect that this recipe would most authentically be made with the golf-ball-sized green eggplant popular in Thailand, but this combination is well worth a try. Besides the aforementioned eggplant, one could use zucchini or any other of the summer squashes in this recipe.

Note that I use rather a lot of squash for the amount of meat. That is because I am cutting back on meat partly because it is better for the environment and partly because I believe recipes like this are more authentic with less reliance on protein. Feel free to use more chicken if you wish.

You can buy green curry paste and coconut milk at any Asian market and at most larger American supermarkets or you can make them yourself. Lemongrass is readily available in Asian markets as well and many supermarkets now carry it. I have not seen fresh kaffir lime leaves in my area so I use shredded ones that come in jars. Again, they are generally available in Asian markets and some American grocery stores. If you cannot find them, just leave them out.

Yield: two servings with rice



Chicken cubes*

250 grams

8 ounces


30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Green curry paste

45 milliliters

3 Tablespoons


1 stalk

1 stalk

Kaffir lime leaves, chopped, optional

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Fish sauce

60 milliliters

¼ cup

Palm sugar***

60 milliliters

¼ cup

Coconut milk

400 milliliters

1⅔ cup

Summer squash in bite-sized cubes

1 medium (500 grams)

1 medium (1 pound)

* thigh and/or breast meat

** or substitute 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons) lemon juice

*** or substitute light brown sugar


Heat the oil in a wok or large pan and fry the curry paste for a minute or two until very fragrant. Add the chicken and stir fry until no longer pink on the outside. Bruise the lemongrass with the side of a knife then put it into the pan along with the kaffir lime leaves, if using, fish sauce, palm sugar or substitute, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is nearly cooked through—about 20 minutes.

Mix in the squash, making sure that they are all in the liquid. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the squash are tender but still firm.

Remove the lemongrass stalk and serve over steamed jasmine rice.


Adapted from: http://australian.food.com/recipe/easy-thai-chicken-summer-squash-curry-200808?mode=us&scaleto=3.0&st=null

Tom Yum Goong

tom yum goongSometimes referred to as Thai hot and sour soup, this delicious soup is much more, achieving the Thai ideal of a balance of the five flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and hot. Those essential five flavors come from fish sauce, palm sugar, lime and lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves, and chilies. Once rare and exotic in the United States, most of these ingredients are now fairly easy to find in a well-stocked supermarket or in a local Asian food store. Some substitutions are possible for the less common ones. Galangal, kha in Thai, is a rhizome similar to ginger (which may be substituted although with a loss of complexity). If fresh kaffir lime leaves are not available you can use shredded ones from a jar or substitute a bit of lime rind to the soup. Palm sugar has a hint of coconut but light brown sugar will do almost as well. There is no substitute for fish sauce, however, but fortunately it is easy to find. Note that many recipes for tom yum goong start with chicken stock. I agree with many Thai cooks online that this is redundant, so I start by making a soup base using the shrimp shells. Although I strain the soup, in Thailand it would be served unstrained and diners would simply leave the tough pieces of lemongrass and galangal behind.

Serves 2 to 4




1 quart

1 liter

Lemongrass, fresh

1 stalk

1 stalk

Kaffir lime leaves, shredded

1 teaspoon

5 milliliters

Galangal, sliced

1-inch piece

25-mm piece

Thai chilies

2 or 3 to taste

2 or 3 to taste

Palm sugar

1 teaspoon

5 milliliters

Fish sauce (nam pla)

2 tablespoons

30 milliliters

Straw mushrooms (optional)

4 ounces (½ can)

100 grams (½ can)

Shrimp, medium

8 ounces

250 grams

Lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons (1 lime)

30 milliliters (1 lime)

Green onions,

1 or 2

1 or 2

Cilantro leaves, chopped

a handful

a handful


Remove and set aside the shells and tails from the shrimp. Devine the shrimp as needed and set them aside in the refrigerator. Slice the lemongrass crosswise into 1-inch (25-mm) pieces. Bring the water stock to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the reserved shrimp shells, the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chilies. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Return the broth to medium-low heat and add the fish sauce, sugar, mushrooms, and shrimp. Simmer for 10 minutes until the shrimp turn pink. Off the heat stir in the lime juice, green onions, and cilantro. Serve hot.

Phanaeng Neua

Phanaeng NeuaThis thick, rich beef curry originated in the south western part of Thailand adjacent to the northern Malaysian state of Penang hence its name which translates as Penang Beef. Although it is a Thai dish it is much like an Indian curry. Authentic Phanaeng curry paste is made from roasted spices in the Indian manner but many Thais use red curry paste instead. And it contains peanuts unlike any other Thai curry except Mussaman, or Muslim, curry, also from the south of the country. But the fish sauce is thoroughly Thai. Traditionally this curry is served with salted duck eggs, a Thai specialty. I have omitted them because I have none on hand (and it takes two weeks to make them). The dish does not contain any vegetables so serve it with steamed cabbage or green beans and, of course, plenty of jasmine rice. I adapted this recipe from templeofthai.com.

By the way, if you can not see the peanuts in the photo it is not your eyes; I forgot to put them in until after I took it.


  • ½ pound sirloin tip, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups thick coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded kaffir lime leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 or 3 red chilies, seeded and sliced
  • ¼ cup roasted ground peanuts (optional)


Put half of the thick coconut milk into a wok and fry stirring continuously, until the coconut oil begins to separate out, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the meat to the wok and stir fry until lightly browned. Add the rest of the thick coconut milk and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the meat is done. Sprinkle in the sugar and stir until it dissolves then add the fish sauce. Mix in the kaffir lime leaves, half of the basil, and the peanuts. Continue to cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through.

Serve garnished with the sliced red chilies and remaining basil leaves.

Yum Woon Sen

yum woon sen 1Mung bean noodles, sometimes called cellophane noodles or bean threads, spread throughout Southeast Asia from China where most are still produced. They are readily available if not in your local supermarket then certainly at an Asian market or online. They are packaged as bundles of very long noodles that may be cut or broken if you wish. I am told that yum woon sen, meaning salad of mung bean noodles, is so popular that you can get it at any Thai restaurant whether or not it is on the menu. As with most traditional dishes it comes in endless variations with each cook claiming that his or hers is the best and most authentic. After reading dozens of recipes in cookbooks and online I believe that the essentials, besides the noodles, are protein, vegetables, and a dressing containing fish sauce, an acid, chilies, and sugar. Pork and shrimp are the most common proteins, often in combination, but chicken is sometimes used; I like shrimp. One could, of course, simply omit the protein altogether and still have a tasty dish. Carrots, celery, and onions are the usual vegetables but how they are cut varies from julienne to sliced. The acid in the sauce is lemon or lime juice, or vinegar; I prefer the latter. Thai fish sauce is as essential as the noodles, though. Traditionally, yum woon sen is served on lettuce leaves but since I had none I served it on top of white jasmine rice.


  • 3 1½-ounce mung bean noodle bundles
  • 12 ounces cooked medium (26 to 30 per pound) shrimp
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally about ⅛-inch thick
  • 1 large celery ribs, slice like the carrots
  • 3 green onions, cut into ½-inch lengths
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • ¼ cup Thai fish sauce
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 pickled garlic cloves, minced, optional
  • 1 Tbsp. palm or white cane sugar, to taste
  • 2 or 3 hot Thai chilies, sliced thinly


Soak the noodles in cold water for 15 minutes then drop into boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and cut each bundle in half. Rinse in cold water and put into a large bowl along with shrimp, vegetables, cilantro, and peanuts.

Combine the fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and chilies in a small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss with your fingers or tongs until well mixed. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

yum woon sen 2

Tom Kha Gai

tom kha gaiLiterally “soup of galangal and chicken” this Thai favorite, served simply ladled over jasmine rice, is meal in a bowl. Like most Thai dishes it strikes a balance of sweet and sour, savory and bitter. It can be made quite spicy but need not be to taste delicious. A few words about ingredients that may be unfamiliar: galangal is rhizome similar to ginger. Most Asian markets carry it but if you can not find fresh galangal, use powdered or, as a last resort, ginger. Lemon grass is a tall perennial grass native to Asia. Again, most Asian markets carry it fresh. Lemon rind is an alternative. As I discussed in a recent post, coconut milk is not the liquid inside a coconut but is extracted from grated coconut meat, either fresh or desiccated. You can find canned coconut milk in most supermarkets but I strongly recommend making your own so that you have both thick and thin milks. Finally, straw mushrooms are traditionally used in tom kha gai—they are available canned—but ordinary white mushrooms taste fine even if they do not look quite as good. Incidentally, you could make this into tom kha pla but substituting white fish for the chicken or tom kha goong with shrimp. I even found online what is said to be the Thai prime minister’s recipe for tom kha salmon.


  • 2 stalks fresh lemon grass
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 1½ cups thin coconut milk
  • 1-inch piece of fresh galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
  • 2 green chilies, whole, optional
  • 1 large chicken breast, 8 to 12 ounces, cut into smallish bite-sized cubes
  • 4 medium mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • Chopped fresh red chilies to taste
  • 1 scallion, white and tender green parts, sliced thinly at an angle
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded kaffir lime leaves, optional


Trim off the ends of the lemon grass stalks and cut off 2-inch pieces from the bottom and chop finely. Cut the remaining lengths of stalks into 2-inch pieces and bruise with the side of a large knife. Combine the chicken stock and thin coconut milk in a suitable saucepan and add the lemon grass, galangal, pepper corns, and whole chilies. Bring to a boil then simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain into a bowl, wipe out the saucepan, then return the broth to it.

Simmer the chicken and mushrooms in the broth, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the thick coconut milk and return to a simmer. Remove from the heat then mix in the lemon juice and fish sauce. Garnish with the chopped red chilies, scallion, cilantro, and kaffir lime leave. Serve immediately ladled over hot jasmine rice

To make coconut milk

Put 1 cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut into the jar of a blender (a food processor does not work as well) and pour in 1¼ cups boiling water. Allow to stand for a few minutes then blend on high speed for about 30 seconds. Pour into a strainer over a bowl. Squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the coconut. This is called thick coconut milk. Return the coconut to the blender and repeat the process with another 1¼ cup of boiling water. Strain into a second bowl. This is the thin coconut milk. If a recipe does not specify which to use I simply mix them together. To get coconut cream, let the thick milk sit until it separates. The cream is what forms on top.

Whatever you do not use right away will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Warm a bit in the microwave to recombine before using.

Thai Red Chicken Curry

Thai Red Chicken CurryWhile Indian curries usually start with dry spice mixtures, Thai curries are made from one of a number of pastes of different colors. Most common are the red, green, and yellow curry pastes as well as Mussaman curry paste, so-called because it is associated with Muslims in the country. The list of ingredients for a Thai curry paste is rather lengthy so many Thais use store-bought pastes. Today these are available not only in Asian markets but in many well-stocked supermarkets as well. I suggest tasting the paste before using it because some can be quite spicy. The other ingredient that is essential to Thai curries is coconut milk. As I discussed in a recent post this is not the liquid in a coconut but rather is made from fresh or dried grated coconut—or you can buy it canned. I adapted this recipe from the back of a container of Maesri brand Red Curry Paste.


  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp. red curry paste
  • 12 ounces chicken breast cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1½ Tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch diagonals
  • ½ cup green beans, I used French cut for a texture contrast
  • ½ tsp. cayenne, optional or to taste
  • 2 or 3 red chilies and a few Thai basil leaves to garnish


Put a wok or other pan over medium heat and 1 cup of coconut milk. Stir in 4 Tbsp. of the red curry paste and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often and being careful that it does not burn. Add the chicken and boil gently until done, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Add the carrots, the rest of the coconut milk, and the fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the green beans and stir in the cayenne if using. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so until the sauce thickens a bit.

Serve immediately over jasmine rice garnished with chilies and basil.

Thai-Style Fried Fish

This classic Thai dish is best made with a small whole fish but it also works well with fish filets or frozen cod loins as I have used here. The sauce is wonderfully fragrant and you can adjust the level of heat by varying the number of chilies you use. Served over steamed jasmine rice it makes a nice light dinner.


2 cod loins, about 4 ounces each

¼ cup oil

2 or more spring onions cut into 1-inch piecesStyu

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 green and 1 red Thai or Serrano pepper

1 tsp. grated ginger

1 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. fish sauce

1 tsp. palm sugar (jaggery) or a 50-50 mix of white and light brown sugar

1 tsp. tamarind liquid (⅛ tsp. tamarind paste in 1 tsp. hot water) or lemon juice

Pinch black pepper

Steamed jasmine rice to serve


Rinse and dry the fish well. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat and fry the fish on each side until done, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Pour off about half the oil and let the rest cool a bit. Over medium heat cook the spring onion until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until lightly browned, about another 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind liquid, and pepper. Simmer for 1 minute.

Plate a serving of rice and place a piece of fish on top then pour sauce over both. Serve immediately.