Filipino food is not generally spicy. There’s only a certain region in the Philippines which feature a spicy cuisine. So while we do have our own version of chicken curry (at least my family does!), it was never really spicy but relied more on either turmeric or ginger for flavor rather than curry powder or paste.
But after I got married, and due to my husband, I became a curry fan. His type of curry though was more of the Indian variety, having come from England. While I am a huge fan of Indian-style curries, occasionally, I make a Thai curry which is more similar to the Philippine version where the use of coconut milk rather than yogurt is more common.
I have discovered recently that there are two schools of thought as to when and how you add the coconut milk to the curry dish. Should the coconut milk be boiled and simmered with the chicken as it is being cooked or should the coconut milk/cream just be added towards the end of cooking? I have tried both ways and I can’t really say which is a better way ’cause the Chicken Curries I made both ways were equally good. I think it depends on what you fancy. If you prefer a creamier version where the coconut milk is quite predominant in your curry then go ahead and simmer the chicken pieces on it. On the other hand, if you just want a taste of coconut milk which does not overpower the whole dish, then add the coconut milk/cream only towards the end of cooking and just cook until it has been fully heated up (boiled for a minute or two). If you do it this way, the curry will be more runny but most Thai curries are not as thick as the Indian style curries, anyway. As long as the resulting curry is flavorful, that’s what matters.
For this particular recipe, I have followed the Filipino style of cooking – simmering the coconut milk longer. I keep in mind what my grandmother told me that if your stomach is sensitive – cook the coconut milk longer so you won’t have any adverse reaction when you have it. Is that a good enough reason?
Another thing to consider when making Thai Green Curry is the kind of paste to use. Different brands do vary in intensity and flavor. I tried the Maesri brand which is quite popular but wow, it did burn my taste buds, but it was truly full of flavor. So, I decided to try the one brand that’s easier to find in big grocery stores – Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste. However, it was on the other end of the spectrum – way too mild for our liking. Perhaps next time I will combine both so that I can get just the right amount of heat without burning my tongue but with enough kick so it won’t be bland. Perhaps I should just attempt to make my own curry paste…. Ok, I am getting too ambitious now…. we’ll see.
In the end, I opted for the Thai Kitchen brand. After all, I have two tots and by using this mild curry paste, they are able to enjoy this yummy chicken curry with us and they do love it!
So regardless of the brand of curry paste that you use or whether you simmer the chicken in coconut milk or not – after all it’s always a matter of preference – this is a great basic curry for anyone who want to try to cook Thai Green Curry. I highly recommend this and for next time, have your own spin on this delicious curry.
3 Tbsp Oil
2 onions, chopped
2.2 lbs (1 kilo) boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillets, chopped into big chunks
2 oz Thai Green curry paste (I used the mild one – Thai Kitchen Brand)
3 Tbsp, Fish sauce
2 Tbsp, Brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 can coconut milk (light or regular)
1 can of sliced bamboo shoots (optional – but great for texture and flavor)
Japanese Eggplants (about 2 pieces, cubed) or Thai Eggplants (about 8 pieces, tops removed then quartered)
Basil leaves (Thai or regular), a bunch
Freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (a few drops) – Totally optional
In a deep pan, heat the oil. Saute the chopped onions in oil for about 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry. Add a little more oil if it becomes too dry. Stir in the green curry paste and coat the chicken fillets. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken changes its color.
Add the fish sauce, brown sugar and salt. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer till chicken is cooked and tender. While the chicken is cooking, remove the bamboo shoots from the can and boil it in about 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan. Depending on the brand you use, the water as you boil it may turn really yellow, so you need to boil it for about 5 minutes to release this yellow liquid (so as not to make a very yellow curry rather than the intended green). Drain and set aside.
When chicken is tender, add the cubed eggplants and bamboo shoots and continue to simmer until eggplants are tender but not mushy.
Adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you think the sauce needs a little bit of a lift, a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice may help. Note though that a green curry is meant to be sweeter in taste compared to a red curry.
Finally, stir in the basil leaves. Don’t omit the Basil leaves (regular ones are fine) ’cause they do boost the taste!
Inspired and partly adapted from Thai Green Curry from Nillawan.com.