Thai cuisine uses a variety of curry pastes (red, yellow or green ones). Each paste tastes unique. Personally, I love Thai Green curry a lot and believe it is among the best non-Indian curries I have ever tasted (I judge a Thai restaurant by the taste of this curry). So far, I am quite impressed by a few authentic Thai restaurants in Hong Kong (my favorites being Sweet Basil in Whampoa Garden and Thai Basil in Pacific Place), which serve superb Thai green curry. When I eat in one of these establishments, I am always transformed to a different world!
Over time, I’ve noted which vegetables and meats these restaurants use to make delicious Thai Green curry. I really enjoy curries with succulent duck meat as we rarely incorporate duck meat in India. As it is currently the season to smell freshly made roast duck in the street markets of Hong Kong, I decided to buy some roast duck breast to create my own out-of-this-world curry experience!
Thai Green curry can be sweet, it can be spicy or both. I love a balanced, sweet and spicy combination, so I made some changes to the basic Thai Green curry paste ingredient list that caters to my taste. If you like this dish to be spicier, simply add a few more chillies to the paste. Make this paste well in advance and keep this refrigerated. No need to restrict your Thai green curry paste to Thai green curry – let your imagination go wild and you will find yourself using this paste in a variety of other ways as well (try using a little of this paste in your regular bread dough, in any savoury batter for deep frying or in your paratha – flatbread – dough for that spicy punch!).
Thai Green Curry Paste
Green chillies: 10
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Shallots: 70 g
Garlic: 40 g
Cumin powder: ½ tsp
Roasted belacan[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belacan]: 1 tsp
Galangal slices: 2
Coriander roots (not leaves): 10 g
Mint leaves: 20 g
Lemongrass: 2 stalks
Kaffir lime leaves: 3
Kaffir Lime zest: 1 lime
Sweet basil: 40 g
Black peppercorns: ½ tsp
½-inch fresh turmeric root: 1
Blend all the ingredients to a fine paste and store in the refrigerator.
Now, lets try making an authentic Thai Green Curry! There are certain points to bear in mind while making this curry:
- Cooking duck breast pieces for a long time in green curry changes the flavor and texture of duck meat. Over-cooking can make the meat hard and rubbery.
- Lemongrass is not the same as lemon juice and has a sharp lemony aroma, minus the sour taste. If you do not get this ingredient, do the following (my own lemongrass substitute): mix juice of one lemon, five drops of lemon essence and ¼ tsp granulated sugar. This is equivalent to the effect of two lemongrass stalks. But, fresh lemongrass is undoubtedly unbeatable.
- There are two green-coloured ingredients in the green curry paste: green chillies, sweet basil and little mint. Without these green ingredients, your curry will not be green. So do not omit these. Also, do not use cilantro leaves for making the paste green.
- If, after adding all the ingredients, you discover that the green curry is too spicy for you, add a little brown sugar to the boiling curry, but do not overdo this process.
- If you get fresh (or canned) straw mushrooms, you are lucky. If not, white button mushrooms are okay.
Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck
[The recipe serves 5–6 people.]
Roast duck breast (with skin; sliced): 250 g
Thai aubergines (cut into half): 5
Babycorns (cut into half, lengthwise): 6
Plum tomatoes: 8
Green bell peppers (cubed into medium-sized pieces): 1
Snow peas: 8
Halved straw mushrooms (can be replaced with white button mushrooms): 8, if straw; 5, if button mushrooms
Pumpkin (cubed and skin removed): 8
French beans (chopped into medium-sized pieces): 5
Coconut milk: 400 ml
Warm water: 1 cup
Sweet basil: 7–8
Salt: According to taste
Heat the oil. Add 5 tbsp Thai green curry paste (recipe above) in 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, stirring continuously until the coconut milk starts separating oil.
Add the pumpkin and the French beans first. Then add the remaining vegetables and salt. Add the fish sauce and the warm water. Stir and simmer for 10 min.
Add the sweet basil and sliced duck meat and cook for 3–4 min. Garnish with a few fresh sweet basil leaves or mint.
Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles.