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Oct 23, 2005 09:54 PM

Home Thai curries?

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I love Thai curries, eating out at Thai restaurants, and getting Thai to go. I like it so much, I've decided to start making my own. I like to be able to control how it turns out. One peeve of mine, for example, with to-go curriy dishes is that I usually end up with a cup half-full of bamboo shoots with a little curry on top, like gravy. I hate bamboo shoots; they're tasteless, and it's clear they are there just to be a cheap filler to cut the amount of curry they dole out. I also hate straw mushrooms, another staple of take-out curries. I want CURRY, not cheap vegetable filler. So screw'm, I thot, I'll make my own. I like to go to Silom Thai market in Hollywood; there must be a hundred different curry preparations, paste, powders, etc. The recipes I've found all seem to call for curry paste, cocoanut milk, and whatever meat and veg's you care to add. Doesn't seem too hard. (I'm not interested in making curry from scratch). I've tried a red curry already, and it was pretty good. I'd like to know if curry fans here can give some tips and fave recipes that guys like me can use. For example, I ran across today a comment from a woman who had made some curry that was a little too hot for her husband's taste. She said, "I used the old trick of adding a teaspoon of peanut butter to cut the heat". I've never heard of that. Does adding PB reduce the heat? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I use Mae Ploy curry pastes: red, green, yellow, masman, and panang. Mae Ploy and Chaokoh are good brands of canned coconut milk. I also like to add some nam prik pow at the end. I use Pantainorasingh brand "chili paste with soya bean oil." Select the meats and vegetables you want and follow the directions on the curry paste tub. I brown my meat off first before putting it into the curry. Also, I carefully take the top off the coconut milk can after the can has sat undisturbed for a while, so the cream will have risen to the top. Spoon off the cream and fry the curry paste in that first, then add the rest of the coconut milk. This is quick and easy and will give you a very flavorful curry.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Jim Washburn

      This is also how I learned to make green curry from friends who took a class in Oakland, CA. The best thing is to keep tasting as you go along, but also keep in mind that all the flavors won't blend together until the end. For example, adding palm sugar near the end somehow brings out a different kind of spiciness, and having the coconut milk/curry paste combo near the beginning be too salty is okay as the later ingredients will balance that out. Check out this website for more brand recommendations and recipes:

      1. re: Jim Washburn

        Thanks, all, for your great ideas. I will be trying Mae ploy and Maesri curry pastes, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, palm sugar,etc.

        1. re: Andrew Gore

          I think the Maesri is far superior to the Mae Ploy.

          1. re: JonParker

            It's quite subjective, though. I agree with you: I strongly prefer Mae Sri over Mae Ploy (and love the fact that Mae Sri comes in convenient one-to-two serving cans, which eliminates the risk of it going stale in the fridge like those big tubs of curry paste), but I know many people who like Mae Ploy much more.

            Frankly, I find that no matter which one you use, you need to dress it up with a few fresh-cut aromatics or it tastes hollow and two dimensional. (I usually just make my own curry paste, though.)

      2. With Mae Ploy pastes, I seem to only be able to produce Thai hot level of heat, too hot for me to taste anything else. I did run across a recipe somewhere that added fish sauce and brown sugar, that seemed to come closer to what I was used to from restaurants.

        Maesri Musaman paste is good right out of the can with c-milk. Gonna try their panang paste soonish.

        Someone posted not too long ago about a third brand of paste that was their fave, can't remember the brand or ever having seen it.

        Might not hurt to ask at the rests you like if you can buy some of their paste.

        1. Yep, thai curry is easy to make if you start with the paste. Here's the quick/lazy method: Saute meat and veg., remove from pan. Mix desired amt. paste into coconut milk (depends how hot you want it, and how much you are making). For 2 servings start with 1 tbs. Don't boil it, just simmer until it combines. Add 2 tbs. fish sauce and 1 tbs. brown sugar. Simmer 5 min., then add meat/veg to heat thru.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Aimee

            Give or take, that's about exactly what I do. It's pretty much impossible to screw up, and it always tastes at least as good as (if not better than) anything I have in restaurants.

            1. re: nickblesch

              see the note from Louise farther down this string. You want to fry the paste (either in the cream on the tip of the coconut milk or some oil) at the beginning of the procedure, then add the other ingredients. That will get the correct flavor for the shrimp paste and other components in the paste.

              After the coconut milk goes it, it should cook, with the paste and other ingredients, until the oil comes out and floats on the top of the sauce.

              I will usually add some lightly fried onions, pepper or other veg, as well as some finely cut kaffir lime leaf, or thai basil to the dish at the end. You also want to check the flavor balance - I usually add some lemon or lime juice but salt or a little sugar might also be called for.

          2. I use Mae Ploy as well. The green curry is HOT, but that's the way I like it.

            One suggestion: Try and procure a thai lime leaf (magrood) plant and thai basil. Both are easy to grow and tend to, and it gives you some ownership of the dish. I still feel bad about using prepared paste, but good god, I can't beat Mae Ploy!

            1. I make Thai curry at least once a week. I often grind my own pastes (using recipes found in Mai Pham's "The Best of Thai and Vietnamese cooking, but bear in mind that her curry paste is HOT), but I use Maesri brand red and green pastes when I don't have time to grind paste.

              Mai Pham's recipe for green chicken curry is a good place to start, though I add parboiled quartered Thai eggplants and water chestnuts (for crunch) rather than straw mushrooms, and use fresh bamboo shoots (check 99 Ranch) when available.

              You can add and subtract things as you wish. The simplest curry is paste, coconut milk, broth, fish sauce and sugar, but add lime leaves, more lemongrass, chiles, more garlic, ginger, etc. as you see fit.