Learn how to make the best authentic Thai red curry, Kaeng Phet, using homemade red curry paste or store-bought paste. The recipe can be easily adapted to any version that suits your diet needs too.
AUTHENTIC THAI RED CURRY
Thai red curry is one of my favorite Thai dishes. I’ve mentioned in my other post that I used to have Thai friend back in college and they made some serious mean Thai food. Thai red curry, as its name suggested is reddish in color. The color derives from the chili used in the red curry paste. The red curry paste is stir-fried until fragrant and then cook with coconut milk. Protein like chicken, duck, beef, pork, or for a meatless version, use tofu (like in this recipe), tempe, or beans like chickpeas is then added, Thai basil is then stirred in.
HOMEMADE THAI RED CURRY PASTE (PHRIK KAENG PHET)
I usually use a store-bought Thai red curry paste. My Thai friends usually do too. They have their favorites that they use and that’s what I’ve been using. But, there’s nothing like making your own paste too 😉 Honestly, the bulk of the work is getting all the different spices for the red curry paste and blend it together. If you find yourself liking this red curry paste, make them in a bigger batch and they can be frozen in individual bags and kept for months.
THIS RECIPE IS HIGHLY ADAPTABLE TO SUIT YOUR DIET NEEDS
In this recipe, I use tofu as a source of protein and added bamboo shoots, and cremini mushrooms.
Regular Thai red curry paste has shrimp paste in it. For a vegan or vegetarian version, simply omit this.
The red curry also uses fish sauce as one of the seasonings, simply use vegan fish sauce.
VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN VERSION
You can use tofu, tempeh, chickpeas and added cubed pumpkin, squash, chayote, zucchini, mushrooms just to mention a few
MEAT OR SEAFOOD CHOICES
You can use pork, beef, duck, cut into thin strips or seafood like shrimp or fish (cut into slices)
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST THAI RED CURRY
1. Preheat a medium pot over medium heat. Add coconut cream and cook over low to medium heat to let the oil separate from the milk.
2. Add the red curry paste and kaffir lime leaves (not shown in photo) and stir fry for about 30 seconds. If you are going to use meat or seafood, add them here and stir fry for about 1 minute
3. Add the rest of the coconut milk, stock, and seasonings (use vegan fish sauce for vegan/vegetarian version). Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen anything that stuck on the pot. If you use meatless protein like tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh, add them here and cook for another minute
4. Bring to a gentle simmer (not boiling). Let it simmer for about 5 minutes
5. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots strips and cook for another 1 minute
6. If you use meatless protein like tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh, add them here and cook for another minute
7. Stir in the basil leaves, turn off the heat and stir to mix
8. Transfer to serving bowl. Serve immediately
PRO TIPS TO MAKE AUTHENTIC THAI RED CURRY
1. By cooking the coconut cream until the oil separates will really add that extra aroma to the dish. You can skip this if you don’t want to do it and just use coconut oil
2. Do not let coconut milk to boil over as it will make the curry not smooth and creamy
3. Stir in the basil leaves last and turn off the heat. The basil will loose its aroma if overcooked
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER THAI RED CURRY
1. You can keep them in the fridge for no more than a week and they can be reheated on the stove or microwave on high for a minute or so
2. You can turn it into another dish like this Red Curry Zoodles. Add more stock to thin out the sauce if necessary
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
Thai red curry paste (make about 3/4 cups - if you choose to make from scratch):
- 10 Thai dried spur red chiles - or use 5 guajillo chiles
- 1/4 tsp white peppercorns
- 3 cloves garlic - (peeled)
- 3 shallots - (peeled)
- 3 inch lemongrass stalk
- 2 inch piece of ginger
- 1 inch piece of galangal
- 1 tsp shrimp paste - omit for vegan and vegetarian version
To make Thai red curry:
Protein of your choice (meat or meatless):
- 1 lb chicken, pork, beef, shrimp - cut the meat into thin strips
- 14 oz block medium firm tofu - cut into medium cubes
- 8 oz canned bamboo shoots strips in water - discard water
- 4 Kaffir lime leaves - (tear the edge of leaves to release flavor)
- 2 handful Thai basil
- Drain off the water from canned bamboo shoots. Rinse the bamboo shoots with clean water. It will help to get rid of the aroma that people complain about sometimes. You can also soak them in warm water for 10 minutes, but I usually don't do this
Prepare red curry paste: (if you choose to make from scratch)
- Soak the red chiles in warm water until soft. If you are going to use mortar and pestle, cut the chiles into smaller pieces
- If using a food processor: Place all the red curry paste ingredients in the food processor and process into a paste. Stir in the shrimp paste and set asideIf using mortar and pestle: Finely chop the lemongrass, ginger, galangal, garlic, and shallots. Place chiles, peppercorns, garlic, and pound into a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for shrimp paste and continue to pound into a paste. Stir in the shrimp paste and set aside
- Preheat a medium pot over medium heat. Add coconut cream and cook over low to medium heat to let the oil separate from the milk. Add the red curry paste, kaffir lime leaves and stir fry for about 30 seconds. If you are going to use meat or seafood, add them here and stir fry for about 1 minute
- Add the rest of the coconut milk, stock, and seasonings (use vegan fish sauce for vegan/vegetarian version). Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen anything that stuck on the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer (not boiling). Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots strips, and cook for another 1 minutes. If you use meatless protein like tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh, add them here and cook for another minute
- Stir in the basil leaves, turn off the heat and stir to mix. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately
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