Whagwan, dedicated Muse readers! Do you have a penchant for Thai food, but feel like the complexities of the cuisine make it too difficult to attempt in your own kitchen without having the results be an utter disaster? Well, I wouldn’t blame you!
Making authentic Thai food can be time consuming, and requires obscure ingredients- and of course, dedication. That being said, you can totally make dishes inspired by Thai cuisine that aren’t that far off the mark from what you might get at Mango or Royal Angkor. So today, I’m going to give you a recipe for a red curry dish that is easy to tailor to your own tastes. This is a recipe I’ve tweaked around from a cooking class I took in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Let’s go get ‘em.
Two Cans of Coconut Milk (Often recipes call for one can, but I find there’s never enough liquid with just one)
4 Tbsp of Red Curry Paste (Mae Ploy is often a good brand. The more curry paste you add will make the curry spicier, and turn it a deeper colour)
Several Sprigs of Thai Basil
2-3 Shallots, sliced
Several Stocks of Chinese Broccoli
10-15 medium-sized Mushrooms
Slices of Cabbage
2 tbsp of Fish Sauce (I know it probably smells nasty, but once you mix it in it helps the flavour. And the smell goes away. I promise.)
2-3 Kaffir Lime Leaves Ripped from the stems (The equivalent of Thai Bay Leaves)
Thai Chilli Peppers, to taste (depending on how much heat you like)
Approx. 2 cups of Sticky or Glutinous Rice (Jasmine rice or even Basmati work fine as well, but the sticky rice gives it a nice consistency similar to congee [for those who know what’s good])
Cook’s Note: I’ve laid this dish out here as vegetarian, but if you’re using meat, just put in less to no mushrooms, Chinese broccoli, and cabbage. The most important parts are the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, basil, and lime leaves.
These ingredients seem mad exotic! How the hell am I supposed to find this in Kingston?
Surprisingly, we’re pretty #blessed in Kingston in regards to places that sell these ingredients; many are even sold fresh, which is super nice.
Your go-to place is the Asian Market on Princess St., near the corner of Barrie St. and across from Phase 2. There’s a friendly couple there that run the store, and are super helpful with finding what you need. The prices here are also better. That being said, places like Loblaw’s and Metro are getting much better at offering these ingredients too, but my first pick (and where you’re most likely to find all the ingredients in one shot) would be the Asian Market.
How to Cook it
For the Curry: Grab a wok, or your pan that is most similar to a wok, and won’t spill over with liquid in it. Pour in half the coconut milk (ideally the thicker part) and wait until it gets hot.
Then put in your shallots, chillies, and curry paste. Cook it down until the paste is decently blended with the coconut milk (meaning it should be a red colour).
Now it’s time to put in the broccoli, cabbage and mushrooms (or meat if you’re cooking with it). Once this has cooked to a good consistency, put in the rest of the coconut milk. Once it’s bubbling again, add in the fish sauce, lime leaves, and half the basil leaves, and stir until they are blended in.
Cut the heat, and serve it in a bowl on top of rice, or with the rice on the side (depending on what gets you off). You can garnish it with the leftover basil leaves and any leftover coconut milk.
For the Rice: Normally, sticky rice often requires overnight soaking, and then being steamed for fifteen minutes to cook it. However, I was recently introduced to a sticky rice put out by Rooster Brand which cooks like regular rice. Rinse the rice well, and then put it in a pot with a 1:1 ratio of water. Be sure to stir near the end, as it will tend to start sticking.
That’s it! Most of the work is in prepping the curry for cooking; getting all your ingredients handy and cut. The cooking portion comes together pretty quick. Bon Appetit!
Like I said above, I wouldn’t consider this to be authentic Thai food, but then neither are most of the dishes you’ll eat at the Thai/Cambodian restaurants here in Kingston. That being said, the restaurant which offers the truest interpretation of Thai food, by my reckoning, would be Pat’s Restaurant on Princess near the Shopper’s Drugmart. Order their Tom Yum Goong. If you want to learn a bit more about Thai food, and see a guy who goes to painstaking lengths to make it like the food is made in Thailand, check out this documentary about Chef Andy Ricker.
Cameron Horack, Online Contributor
Photography: Sophie Barkham