Summer is officially over, which means cooler temps and of course more warming and comforting meals. It is really important that as the seasons change, so does what is on our plate and eating locally when possible is something I always try to do for myself and recommend to others. This not only helps to support our local farmers and all of their hard work, but it also tastes better and is better for the environment as well. Of course, with that being said, I definitely used ingredients in this dish that are not grown anywhere in Canada, but the spices provide the perfect amount of heat which is great when the temps start to dip. Make this Thai Red Curry Chicken when you want comfort food and to stay warm!
I only started experimenting with Thai curry in the last year or two, prior to that I was fairly certain that I didn’t like it even though I had never had it. Funny how our perceptions can play out like that sometimes, huh? I was a self-professed Thai food lover, but I always stuck to the same dishes, mainly pad Thai which was a total weakness for me. However, as I get older, I find I can’t handle the same spiciness anymore and also the oils in the pad Thai can cause some digestive issues for me. Alas, I don’t go out as much for Thai food as I once did and so I had to start getting creative in the kitchen and making some of the dishes myself. I have tried for a long time to nail a good pad Thai sauce and I haven’t gotten there just yet, but maybe one day that will turn around, at least I hope so!
So rather than try with another pad Thai recipe, I decided to try my hand at Thai curry after trying it at a local Thai restaurant in Toronto. It was soooo good and I was really annoyed with myself for not having tried it earlier. Really, I am not sure why I thought it wouldn’t be good, as it consists of Thai flavours mixed with coconut milk, veggies and the perfect herbs and spices. Well after that experience, I knew I could make this myself, even if it is not truly as authentic as this version, because I just don’t have access to the same ingredients as them, it still tastes delicious and to me that is really what matters. I also added in tons more veggies and served it over quinoa (hence the twist) for added nutrients, but you can serve it over brown rice or cauliflower rice, or just have it on its own as is, although personally I do like to have it over something myself.
The spice level of this dish is mild to medium for me. I will admit, I do tend to like things spicy, but my boyfriend and myself both thought this dish was pretty mild. However, when I read other people’s comments about the amount of thai red curry paste they use less as they find it spicy. Also the brand I buy (Thai Kitchen) has three chili peppers on the front, indicating this is spicy, so if you are sensitive to spice, definitely tone it down a bit, but personally I did not find it spicy and ended up adding some chili flakes.
Another ingredient that I used was kaffir lime leaves, which I happened to score fresh at Whole Foods and I am sure you could find it at Asian grocers as well. This is a fairly important ingredient as it provides such a nice fragrance and taste to the dish, it is what authentic Thai restaurants use in their cooking to give it that particular flavour. I am not sure of any substitution for it, perhaps try with some grated lime zest (use organic limes please), but this wont be the same as the lime leaf. Think of this as a bay leaf, it adds a lot of flavour, but before you eat the dish, you can take them out, or leave them in, but just don’t eat them whole 😉
If you want to make this dish entirely vegan or vegetarian, you can omit the fish sauce and sub in some organic tofu, or just have all veggies, maybe even some cooked chickpeas?! The possibilities to this meal are endless and the sauce is what really matters and makes this dish so incredibly tasty in my opinion. Last, feel free to use whatever fresh veggies you have on hand, I had green beans, zucchini and sweet potatoes so that is what I used, but I am sure there are plenty of other tasty options you can add in such as broccoli, cauliflower or eggplant. This dish is fairly light in comparison to other oily versions usually served at restaurants, so your digestion does not need to be compromised in the process. Go ahead, enjoy this Thai red curry chicken in all its glory!
For the fish sauce, I use this brand.
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- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 4 tbsp. thai red curry paste
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can coconut milk (I use full fat, but you could maybe get away with the light version as well)
- 1 tbsp. palm sugar
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 lime juiced
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 6-8 organic chicken thighs (I used bonelss and skinless, but if you use bone-in, cook time could vary).
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (cubed)
- 2 medium zucchinis
- Large handful of green beans
- Cilantro for garnish.
- Using a large cast iron pan, heat up the pan over medium-high heat.
- Add a tsp of coconut oil if you wish.
- Add the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, chili flakes (optional). You could also add the seasonings to the chicken earlier if you wish.
- Sear for about 5-6 minutes per side.
- Turn off the pan, remove from heat.
- Using a large pot or dutch oven, heat to medium and melt 1 tsp coconut oil.
- Add in the diced onion and grated ginger, stirring often for 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic within the last 30 seconds of cooking the onion.
- Add in the curry paste, tomato paste, coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves.
- Add in all the vegetables and chicken.
- It will be a lot in your pot, stir it around coating all of the veggies and chicken.
- Cook on medium-low for about 25-30 minutes (with the lid on) until your veggies and chicken are cooked.
- Serve over quinoa, or your choice of grain/cauliflower rice and sprinkle with fresh cilantro and chili flakes if desired.
- You can prepare the chicken in advance and then add it in to your pot to re-heat if you wish.