Thai Green Curry with Shrimp

Sometimes I can be a bit of a purist (OK you may laugh). Everyone can do as he pleases in the kitchen and everybody can eat what he likes, but please let’s not confuse each other by calling things what they are not. If you want to eat spaghetti with bacon and cream, fine, but don’t call it carbonara (which is made with guanciale or pancetta and eggs, and definitely without cream). There is nothing wrong with using garlic and parsley in a pasta sauce with meat and tomatoes, but don’t call it bolognese. I always try to prepare dishes as authentic as possible, which is sometimes difficult as most of the dishes I cook have not originated in the Netherlands. So I try to research and disclose it on my blog when I am not sure about the authenticity or when I cut corners.

What does this introduction have to do with Thai green curry? I’ve never been to Thailand and I don’t eat at Thai restaurants often, but when I do I tend to like the food. And so I thought I’d do some research and try to prepare an authentic Thai green curry. I found the High Heel Gourmet blog and had a blast reading it. You think I am a purist about Italian food? Check out this lady! I quote: “If you want to follow the “Do it yourself” recipe that uses green onion, cilantro, ginger root, lime juice and THE WHOLE POD of cardamom to make green curry paste so much, go ahead, but don’t call it Thai curry paste and please, don’t serve the curry to the Thais. They would barf!” I love it! She even critiqued Richard’s green curry, but was very nice about it.  (That is actually how I discovered her blog.)

As the High Heel Gourmet appears to know her stuff, I decided to go by her rules. I managed to find the authentic ingredients as specified and prepared my first Thai green curry with it, and absolutely loved it! Also my friends loved it, who have been to Thailand and who eat at Thai restaurants all the time. The curry had great depth of flavor and tasted very fresh. This was of course due to making fresh green curry paste from scratch. That is not a lot of work if you own a blender, the work is in finding the ingredients. It was hot but not extremely hot, and you can of course control the heat by using less or more chili peppers.

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My first green curry was prepared with jumbo shrimp and choi sum (which I picked up instead of bok choi to try it) and I liked it a lot. I’m not going to repeat all of High Heel’s Gourmet green curry wisdom here, you’ll just have to go to her blog to find out. Or follow the recipe below of course.

Ingredients

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For green Thai curry paste

1 Tbsp chopped galangal root (not ginger!)

2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass (see below)

6 Tbsp sliced garlic

5 Tbsp sliced shallots (not onions or scallions)

5 green chili peppers (or more or less, depending on how hot you like it)

1 tsp chopped coriander ROOT (not coriander leaves; substitute with coriander stems, nearest to the roots)

1 tsp minced kaffir lime zest (substitute with 1/2 tsp regular lime zest and 1/4 tsp kaffir lime leaf)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp roasted Thai shrimp paste (see below)

1/2 tsp white peppercorns

1 tsp roasted coriander seed (see below)

1 tsp roasted cumin seed (see below)

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For the curry, 4 servings

400 ml (1 can) coconut milk

coconut oil or coconut cream (top layer of the coconut milk)

4 Tbsp thai green curry paste from above (more or less to taste)

600 grams (1.3 lb) peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

800 grams (1.8 lb) bok choi (I used choi sum instead)

Thai basil, for garnish

Thai fish sauce to taste

palm sugar to taste

salt to taste

Preparation of the Thai green curry paste

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Of the lemongrass you should only use the part with purple rings.

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The shrimp paste should be roasted first. Wrap the shrimp paste in aluminum paste… 

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…and roast it in the oven together with the coriander seeds, and cumin seeds for 10 minutes at 180ºC/350ºF.

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Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. I only removed the stems from the chili peppers.

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I ground the cumin seeds and coriander seeds in my spice grinder after roasting them, together with the white pepper corns.

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Then I put all of the remaining ingredients in the food processor…

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…and minced them.

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I transferred this to the blender and added the ground spices and shrimp paste.

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I processed this until it was quite smooth. You could add some coconut oil if needed to get things going.

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This will probably yield more green curry paste than you will need. The remainder can be frozen.

More about making the green curry can be found here. This is wat I did…

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I separated the leaves from the stems and chopped both.

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I cooked the curry paste in the coconut oil over high heat.

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I added the coconut milk.

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I stirred to mix.

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I added the stems, as they need to cook the longest.

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I cooked this for a few minutes over medium heat.

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Then I added the leaves…

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…and cooked them for a few minutes over medium heat as well.

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I lowered the heat and added the shrimp.

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I turned off the heat and stirred in the shrimp and let them be cooked by the residual heat. Shrimp should be cooked at a low temperature to cook them through without making them dry.

I seasoned the curry with fish sauce, salt, and palm sugar to taste.

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I served the curry with jasmin rice and garnished with Thai basil.

Wine pairing

A green Thai curry with seafood is great with a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or a grüner veltliner or another crispy white with a “green” flavor.

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21 thoughts on “Thai Green Curry with Shrimp

  1. This Thai dish looks incredible. You’re very brave to try it out. I can’t get all of the ingredients, especially the fresh ones, so I’ve never bothered. But I think the only way to have a truly traditional dish is to go to Thailand, or to Italy. It’s just something in water, don’t you think? Like baguettes don’t taste the same outside of France.
    That’s also why I don’t make a lot of authentic Mexican food – I can’t get all of the different chile peppers, so the resulting dish might be wonderful, but I don’t really know what ti’s supposed to taste like.
    That’s why I continue to make Thai-inspired and Mexican-inspired dishes, using the ingredients I can get, but knowing, unfortunately, that I’ll never know the real thing until I travel to that country.
    And, that’s why I travel!

    • This was my first curry paste, so no I haven’t used dried chilies yet. I’m pretty sure fresh chilies will provide a fresher flavor, which for this green curry is best.

  2. As always, Stefan, you’ve impressed the hell out of me!! My family & I were lucky enough to vacation in Thailand – we loved it! I remember is being able to pick out the exact fish we wanted to eat at some of the restaurants – and my boys favorite memory was eating (or, actually ‘not eating’) at a floating village about an hour away from Bangkok. They enjoyed the boat ride and visiting the village but they just couldn’t stomach eating the fish cause the heads were still on. (The fish had been netted, then kept in nets floating in the water along the wharf of the village – again – talk about fresh!)

      • The heads don’t bother me but they sure bothered my sons. It does seem that Americans don’t want to be reminded what they’re eating used to be alive – and possibly, very recently !

  3. Nice job … I’d like to try Coriander root sometime. I hate the leaves (love the seeds), but I gather the roots are different from both. BTW, you might enjoy ‘Thai Food’ by David Thompson. 600 pages and a real bible of spice blending…

  4. WOW, I’m really impressed! Not only did you make it from scratch, but you also found the ingredients. Hmm, I don’t think I will succeed with that here in Italy…
    It surely looks delicious, and only the photos transported me back to a tiny lovely restaurant by the sea in Thailand. I think I have to convince my husband to go back… :-D

  5. But Stefan, I’m not talking about that “experiential” eating experience, being on vacation and enjoying food. I’m talking about actually being in Italy or France and tasting the food as it’s grown, with the freshest local ingredients. Where the basil is grown, for example, which I’ve experienced in Liguria. And like I mentioned – really good French bread, that, as far as I know, can’t be duplicated anywhere. The water is different, the butter is different, and the flour is different. The weather and the growing season are both unique.
    But I love that you were able to get these Thai ingredients, and it is a passionate thing to create such a foreign meal. Like I said, I wish I could taste it!

  6. - In the same line of your opening comment, once on TV, Martha Stewart said, ‘if you change any of the major ingredients or methods on her recipes, don’t call them Martha Stewart recipes. Where you stand out and present with your blog is the authority in preparing food as it should be respected and highlighted.
    - Green curry is my (along with billions I’m sure) favorite Thai food. I had it a few times in Thailand and not all of them were good. ;) Speaking for myself, I am used to cooking with ingredients I am familiar with. If a foodie, I have to get out of my comfort zone, explore the unfamiliar/authentic ingredients and cook dishes that I appreciate. Thank you for the tutorial, it gives encouragement to the novice of the cuisine.

  7. Great job…Well done Stefan! :)

    I’m actually scare of the heat level in yours curry, seeing all the chillies you put in. You got a Thai girl quite concern ;)…(I’m sure all Thais would approve your level of heat)

    To answer to the Q about dried chili. Yes, we do use them a lot in Thai curry but the color will not be green and the flavors are quite different.

    David Thompson’s Thai cookbook is probably one acceptable Thai cookbook that was written by a foreigner (and might be the only one). He probably understood Thai cooking principal quite well. He had a partner who was Thai and had a very good Thai cooking teacher. I would say if you can put yourself through the whole book, you would come out knowing a lot of basic. The obstacle is that it’s more like a text book, not a pleasure reading book.

  8. Great job! Maranti tweaked my Pad Thai recipe taking it from good to outstanding, so I’m sure your green curry was wonderful. Re the comment about David Thompson. He’s an Aussie who worked for many years in the Thai royal kitchens and is now considered a world authority on Thai cuisine. He operates Thai restaurants in Sydney, London (1st Thai ever to receive a Michelin Star) and Bangkok. He’s considered a world authority. I recommend his tome Thai Food!

  9. Thank you! Feel like putting that in capital letters, but methinks I’would get an ‘E’ for non-elegance! Wonderful recipe and I have or can get all the ingredients. Secondly guess who has managed to sign up for the above blog already: shall try ~ looks interesting! Thirdly, am not laughing at you, but have my own BP up, as have had a two-day ‘to-and-fro’ about the same: ‘If you call something classic by a name, make the classic recipe!’ with someone in the US who, of course, knew way better . . .well, am proud to be that kind of purist!!!

  10. It took me three attempts to get this recipe just right, but I finally did it. I love the spicy flavor and I also like the texture of Jasmin rice (I had never used this before).

    Also, thanks for the detailed instructions and photos, they are very, very helpful.

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