Thai Green Curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan)

Whenever I taste a good Thai green curry, my mind takes me back to my favourite restaurant in Thailand. It is a small, bustling restaurant on the outskirts of Bangkok with a mini zoo in the garden (tortoises, Japanese carp and a crocodile). I go to Thailand often, and it is mainly the wonderful cuisine that keeps on seducing me back.

Serves: 4

Perfect for: Thai food lovers who want something not crazy spicy.

Perfect when: You want people to think you went all out, but actually you did very little.

Difficulty: 3/ 5

Cost: 4/ 5

Time: 3/ 5

 

Why it works:

  • The fresh Thai basil adds that authentic touch that elevates the dish.

  • When bitten into, the pea aubergines release a unique bitter taste that compliments the sweetness of the curry.

  • I don’t really need to say anymore, we all know Thai green curry works!

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Notes:

  • Thai basil is the game changer in this dish. If you can, try and go to your local oriental store to get this. Some large supermarkets may stock this too, like Waitrose. Normal basil may be used, but be warned, the taste will be different!

  • It is best to use a Thai curry paste like this. The varieties that come in plastic tubs are often the most authentic.

  • By keeping the coconut cream and liquid separate, you can cook the curry in a similar style to how it is done in Thailand. Avoid shaking it before opening the can, and the fat and liquid will be separate.

  • When heating the coconut cream, sometimes it won’t split due to the emulsifiers added to canned coconut cream. If it doesn’t split, you can add a bit of oil to recreate the classic look and texture.


Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk, separated into thick cream and milk.
  • Approx. 500g boneless chicken (3 breasts or 6 thigh fillets)
  • 2 cups of aubergine, cut into inch chunks
  • 1 cup of pea aubergines, fresh or from a jar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 cup of Thai sweet basil leaves

Method:

  1. Coconut base: Heat the coconut cream over low heat in a saucepan for about 5-10 mins until it starts to dry out and the oil splits from the cream.
  2. Flavour: Add the curry paste and stir fry over medium heat for one minute until it is fragrant.
  3. Simmer: Add the chicken and stir for a minute or two. Add the remaining coconut liquid, the aubergines and enough boiling water to cover. Simmer for 5-10 mins.
  4. Season: Add fish sauce, sugar and Thai basil. Leave to rest for 5 mins and tuck in!

Extra Detail:

  1. This process of cracking the coconut milk is a classic way of preparing a green curry in Thailand. This makes the curry less rich and the green oil gives it an aesthetically pleasing look.
  2. Stir frying the curry paste releases the flavour into the coconut cream.
  3. The curry should be quite liquid, almost soup like. It also means there is more sauce that can soak into the rice!
  4. Kaeng khiao wan means sweet green curry in Thai. The sugar is therefore very important, as it helps mellow out the spices. Be wary of adding too much fish sauce, it can overpower dishes and should only be used as a seasoning. The resting period allows the flavours to mix and get to know each other.

Photos:

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