A warm and comforting creamy coconut Thai red curry that's easy and quick to put together with many layers of flavors from the shrimp paste, coconut cream, kaffir lime leaves, and condensed milk.
More often than not, I find myself always leaning towards takeout, especially during hectic times of the year. It's easier to just blame it on my laziness but truth be told I just overthink food and forget that delicious food doesn't always have to be complicated and take a decade to make.
So for anyone out there who falls into this rut like me, I would like to share my super easy and versatile Thai red curry recipe in hopes that this recipe can bring you a whole lot of deliciousness without a lot of effort so you can use your time on more important things - like eating dessert - priorities 🙂
I love serving this with a side of noodles or rice. If I like having something chewy, I will also add some toasted rice cakes to them to soak up the curry!
INGREDIENTS FOR THAI RED CURRY
For this Thai red curry recipe, a few of the ingredients should be available at your local grocery store but a bulk of it (fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, and shrimp paste) might be harder to find unless you shop for it at an Asian grocery store.
To keep things simple and quick, I use red curry paste for this recipe instead of making it from scratch but rest assured this shortcut does not compromise its flavor of it at all. 🙂 In fact, I highly recommend keeping a small jar around all the time.
Depending on the brand you buy, they almost always have all the main components of Thai cuisine (kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shrimp paste, and chilis) and it takes the work out of finding these ingredients if they are not easy to find in your area - and the flavors are definitely authentic. 🙂
COCONUT MILK vs COCONUT CREAM
Once I discovered how flavourful and full-flavored coconut cream was, I rarely ever use coconut milk now. Coconut cream has a more robust coconut flavor and provides a more creamy texture in anything it is used in from to it's higher fat content.
Unfortunately, coconut cream is not always easy to find but if you can find it then definitely use it. If you can't find coconut cream, you can use coconut milk but make sure to find a higher fat content one - I find those types of coconut milk are a lot more flavourful. Try to also find coconut milk without any chemicals or preservatives - ideally you want to find one with just coconut milk (or coconut extract) and water. I have found in the past that any coconut milk I have used with a lot of added chemicals and preservatives actually has less of a coconutty flavor.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR THAI RED CURRY WITH DIFFERENT PROTEINS
This is a very versatile Thai red curry and you can easily use any type of protein for this recipe. A few types I have used in the past successfully are:
- Thinly Sliced Chicken (white and dark meat - use the meat marinade below)
- Thinly Sliced Beef (use the meat marinade below)
- Fish - this also works very well in this Thai red curry. You don't need to cut this super-thin since fish is quite delicate and can break apart easily if it is sliced too thinly.
- You can make this completely vegetarian by adding only vegetables as well (red peppers, sugar snaps, snow peas, bok choy, etc.)
HOW TO GET A CREAMIER THAI RED CURRY
For this recipe, I used condensed milk to give the curry a hint of sweetness but also give it an added creaminess as well. You can use palm sugar interchangeably with the condensed milk but it will be slightly less sweet so tweak this to adjust this to your taste. If you substitute the condensed milk with white sugar, you will lose a bit of the creaminess - to compensate for that you can add an additional tablespoon of coconut milk. Keep in mind as well that white sugar is a lot sweeter than condensed milk so use half the amount of white sugar and work your way up slowly until it is at the right degree of sweetness for you.
SIMPLE MEAT MARINADE
Have you ever noticed that whenever you cook any type of thinly sliced chicken or beef they sometimes come out dry and sometimes tough? I have a solution for that - it's my two-ingredient super simple meat marinade that I pretty much use in all my stir-fries.
It's made of salt and water! It's essentially a mini brine. The salt draws the water into meat and makes it super supple so that it is harder to overcook and dry out the meat. Neat eh? For this marinade, I rarely ever use salt though and I prefer to use either soy sauce or fish sauce instead.
LOOKING FOR MORE COMFORT FOODS? TRY THESE!
- Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)
- Tom Yum Goong (Thai Hot and Sour Soup)
- Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
- Beer-Braised Pork Belly (Chinese Style)
- Creamy Cheese Ramen
DID YOU MAKE THIS THAI RED CURRY RECIPE?
If you made this Thai red curry recipe leave me a comment to let me know how it went! I also want to see! Follow Pups with Chopsticks on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag and hashtag it with @pupswithchopsticks and #pupswithchopsticks. I love to know what you are making!
Creamy Thai Red Curry
- You can substitute condensed milk with palm sugar. If you do, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of coconut cream to give it the creaminess it is missing
- If you are substituting the condensed milk with sugar, start by adding only 1 tablespoon of sugar and tweak it to your liking. Sugar is much sweeter than condensed milk. Add in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of coconut cream to replace the missing creaminess
- You can substitute the condensed milk with honey as well, but add 1 extra tablespoon of coconut cream.
- If you cannot find coconut cream, try to find a coconut milk with high fat content with as little preservatives and chemicals as possible. The ingredient list should ideally just be coconut milk (or coconut extract) and water.
- If you are using fish as your protein, try not to cut it too thin. Fish is super delicate and will break apart in the curry if it is cut too thinly.
- When shopping for shrimp paste, keep in mind that shrimp paste and shrimp sauce is used interchangeably. Look for a brownish grey paste in a glass or plastic jar.
- You can easily use leftover meats and protein for this recipe! If you use leftovers instead of raw protein, add it in under the 'Cooking the Protein in the Curry' section and cook it for 1-2 minutes instead of 5-8 minutes.
Beef & Chicken Marinade
- ½ lb beef (or any type of protein)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons water
Toppings & Garnishes (optional)
- basil leaves
- crushed roasted peanuts
- red chili peppers
Preparing and Marinating the Protein
- If you are using beef, chicken or pork as the protein - Thinly slice the meat and add in the marinade and set aside. The thinner you slice this, the less time it will take to fully cook it.
- If you are using veggies, tofu or fish as the protein cut them up into bite sized pieces and set aside
Putting the Curry Together
- Slice the onion and set aside
- Roughly chop the garlic and set aside
- Add 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a pot and set the stove to medium heat.
- Once the pot is hot, add in the onions and saute them until they are soft, then add the garlic and kaffir lime leaves in and cook it for 1 more minute until it is soft and fragrant.
- Add in the red curry paste and toast it for 1-2 minutes - it's okay if some of it sticks to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the coconut cream and gently scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon to scrape all the burnt red curry paste off the bottom of the pot. The burnt red curry on the bottom of the pot gives the curry additional flavor.
- Add in the water, shrimp paste, condensed milk and stir until everything is well combined
- Adjust the heat to low heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes
Cooking the Protein in the Curry
- Once you have simmered the curry for 20-30 minutes, adjust the heat back to medium-low heat and give the curry 2-3 minutes to come to come to temperature again.
- Add in the protein (beef, chicken, fish, tofu etc) and cook it until it is cooked all the way through. The time it takes for the meat to cook all the way through will depend on how thick you sliced the meat. It takes about 5-8 minutes for the meat to cook all the way through for me when I slice it ⅛ inch thick.
- Add in the fish sauce at the very end and adjust it to your preference of saltiness
- Remove from heat when it is done and discard kaffir lime leaves. Garnish the curry with toppings of your choice and serve it with rice, noodles or rice cakes! Enjoy! 🙂
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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