I have always loved the colour of Thai green curry, its signature colour being the result of the large green chillies and green bird’s eye chilli blended into the spice paste. But if you have always had the impression that green coloured chillies aren’t as spicy as their red counterparts, you might be proven wrong here. This dish is as spicy as some of the spicier red curries I’ve had! If you would like it less biting on your taste buds, try omitting the peppercorns completely or reducing the amount of green bird’s eye chilli for a more comfortable spicy zing.
Recipe adapted from "Zesty Southeast Asian Treats" by author Anna Phua.
- 1 chicken, about 1 kg, washed, drained and chopped into chunks
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 6 basil Leaves
- 250 ml thick coconut milk
- 250 ml thick coconut, mixed with 250 ml water to make 500 ml thin coconut milk
- 5 tbsp oil for frying
- 30 g garlic, peeled
- 30 g shallots, peeled
- 20 g galangal, peeled
- 2 lemon grass stalks, tough outer skins removed, bottom one-third section only and sliced thinly
- 10 green chillies, cut into small sections
- 10 green bird's eye chilli, cut into small sections
- 1/2 tbsp peppercorn, toasted in small saucepan till fragrant
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp dried shrimp paste, toasted
- 2 - 3 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
In a mortar and pestle, pound together until fine the following ingredients in the order stated - lemon grass, galangal, garlic, shallots, chillies and peppercorns. Add ground spices and shrimp paste, and mix well together into the paste. Alternatively, put all spices into a food processor and process into a fine paste.
Heat up oil in a deep pot set over low medium fire. When hot, fry spice paste until fragrant and oil floats to the surface, about 5 minutes. Increase fire to medium, add chicken chunks and stir fry to coat the pieces all over with the spice paste.
When chicken chunks start to turn colour and is slightly cooked on the outside (about 5 minutes), add thin coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Let mixture come to a boil, then let simmer for 20 minutes.
Add seasonings (when adding fish sauce, add tbsp by tbsp, as it is salty, until flavour is to your taste) and basil leaves. Drizzle in thick coconut milk, stir to mix well and bring back to a gentle boil. Immediately remove from fire once it comes back to a boil, and serve hot.
(Note: Do not let coconut milk boil too long as the oil will start to separate, resulting in a curdled appearance)