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Help! Thai Curry

collectiveyawn Sep 18, 2006 09:50 PM

Every time I try to cook thai curry at home it doesn't turn out quite right. It always seems to be missing an almost indefineable saltiness at the back end that I would usually attribute to MSG. Has anyone had this problem? Can anyone reccomend a brand of curry paste that has worked in the past?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

  1. g
    Gretchen Sep 18, 2006 10:46 PM

    Have you tried adding fish sauce? I use a teaspoon or so and it seems to round out the curry flavor. I just use regular Taste of Thai curry and it seems to work out pretty well...

    1. t
      theSauce Sep 18, 2006 10:53 PM

      what type of thai curry are you trying to make?

      1. d
        dantheculinaryman Sep 18, 2006 11:01 PM

        I have used Maesri brand for years and have been very pleased. I agree with Gretchen about the fish sauce. I will usually add a bit of fish sauce, maybe fresh basil or lemongrass. They have a wide variety of styles available.

        A link with a picture is located...

        1. TexasToast Sep 18, 2006 11:36 PM

          Definately you need to use fish sauce and fresh kaffir lime leaves. Those two things are the KEY to lifting out the flavors in the Thai curry paste.


          1. Das Ubergeek Sep 19, 2006 02:39 AM

            Let me add here that if you're going to add fish sauce, you need to add sugar (I use palm sugar) to balance it. For N teaspoons of fish sauce, I use N-1 teaspoons of sugar -- for 3 teaspoons of fish sauce, I use 2 teaspoons of sugar.

            1. c
              Cinnamon Sep 19, 2006 02:47 AM

              Fish sauce - and ideally premium fish sauce. It's basically anchovies isn't it? Very salty, very yum and requisite in Thai curry.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cinnamon
                JoanN Sep 19, 2006 07:35 PM

                Basically, it's rotten fish. May be anchovies or any other very small fish with minimal commercial value.

                This may be more than you want to know:


                A number of years ago I visited a community in Cambodia that specialized in making fish sauce. Couldn't get back to my hotel to take a shower fast enough! I'm surprised I still eat the stuff.

              2. c
                cookinuptop Sep 19, 2006 07:47 PM

                The suggestions for fish sauce are spot on. Depending upon other ingrediants, the sugar idea can be a good one. Shrimp paste can also add the sodium you're looking for. If you're really interested in developing your talents regarding curries, I highly suggest getting one or both of the following books. They're well written, highly informative, entertaining, and above all, will have you making knock-out curries in no time: "Real Thai" by Nancie McDermott, and "A World of Curries" by Dave Dewitt and Arthur Pais.

                1. pancake Sep 19, 2006 08:53 PM

                  i agree that lime leaves are essential.....i used to leave them out and could never get the bang on flavour that restaurants do............here is a quick recipe....i just use store-bought red thai curry paste here......exactly like take-out:

                  2 1/2 cups coconut milk
                  1 tablespoon curry paste
                  3 tablespoon fish sauce
                  2 tsp brown sugar
                  4 lime leaves
                  (then add veggies as wanted)

                  put 1/3 coconut in pan until sheen develops, add rest of ingredients (minus lime leaves) and blend......add veggies, etc...add rest of milk and lime leaves.....
                  this has never failed me.......
                  (i fry my eggplant in oil first and just add it in) done in a jiffy.

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