Writer_ Adam Morby
Thai curries are fast, simple, healthy and cheap. Everybody should know how to make a thai curry.
They keep well in the fridge for about five days and they’re perfect for bringing in to uni with some leftover rice (you can reheat them in the microwave on the top floor of the union). They’re also a lot more versatile and varied than people give them credit it for – they come wet like a soup, or dry like a stew, spicy as hell, or with not a chilli in sight. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu, in the oven, on the hob, as a one pot or as a seven dish Thai extravaganza… Yes please.
There are very few things out there with the depth of flavour of a Thai curry, but there are a few tips you need to know to prevent a small disaster. I don’t know about you, but if I mess something up in the kitchen I tend not to go back to it for years.
- The Paste: Don’t go anywhere near those crappy supermarket brands, Blue Dragon and Amoy. They’re water-based, which is kind of oxymoronic as you can’t fry water, and it’s in the frying that a thai curry stands or falls. There’s a brand called Mae Ploy, it lasts for two years after you’ve opened it, it’s cheap, it’s exactly as it should be in taste and aroma, and as an added bonus, the Massaman contains no chilli whatsoever, so you can give it to kids.
- Fry it good: I can’t shout out enough the importance of frying the paste. Three tablespoons of oil, three tablespoons of paste, fry it till it’s almost burnt and your kitchen smells like Little Bangkok, then fry it some more but with the very thick bit from the top half of the coconut milk, till the oil rises to the top, before adding the rest of the coconut milk.
- Always add a teaspoon of sugar to the paste as it fries. It caramelises and adds further depth of flavour. And always, always add a tablespoon of fish sauce at the end. If it tastes like something is missing, it’s probably more fish sauce.
- Buy your coconut milk wisely. Again, don’t go for the supermarket brands. Especially so in this case. Blue Dragon even have the cheek to offer a more expensive Light Coconut Milk, which has less coconut and more water in it. I spit in their face. Seriously. The SE Asian shops are the best places to get it, but if you’re in the supermarket, try the Caribbean section. Always check the label and give it a shake. If you can hear it it’s too thin, aim for more than 50% coconut extract and as few preservatives as possible.
- Don’t overcook the meat. Chicken breast takes five minutes to cook in simmering coconut milk. There’s a two minute window of opportunity when it comes to chicken breast, on one side is food poisoning, on the other is dry chicken. Find the window.
- And goddamn it don’t overcook your veg. Under is better than overcooked in the case of the veg, and don’t forget, by the time it gets to the table it’ll have cooked that little bit more.