The tropical warmth of Florida was still on my mind when I returned to New England and the snow covered ground of our home in New Hampshire. If you are like me, a warming meal from a tropical climate is perfect on a cold night. I enjoy Thai food and one in particular…green coconut curry with its aromas of lemongrass and ginger cooking in sweet coconut milk and its vibrant color reminded me of the lush green tropical gardens I had recently enjoyed .
Green coconut curry is wonderful on a cold night but the nice thing about this meal is that it is also great when the weather is hot and steamy as in Thailand, a country that is famous for its flavorful curries. This dish of tender moist chicken and vegetables cooked in a green coconut sauce has a combination of ingredients that can be found in several dishes that you might have had before. It can easily be adapted to the meats, vegetables and herbs that you have in your kitchen and can be easily changed to become a vegetarian and vegan curry by replacing the chicken with tofu.
Green Coconut Curry
Serves two, adjust the recipe accordingly.
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- a two-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 to 4 Tbsp. of green curry paste (I used 4 Tbsp. or 2 oz.), depending on your taste
- 1 can of coconut milk (do not shake)
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (soy sauce can be substituted)*
- 1 tsp. lemongrass paste
- a three-inch piece of lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, smashed
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed into bite size pieces (tofu can be substituted)*
- 1 medium potato peeled and cubed (I used yellow)
- 1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach (puree with a little water) or finely minced
- 1/2 c. frozen peas
- 1 green onion (scallion) sliced for garnish
- wedges of lime to be served alongside
*Substitutes for vegan and vegetarian diets. Also check the ingredient list on different brands of green curry paste or prepare your own.
Heat the oil in a pot, add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and curry paste and cook for several minutes. Spoon off the thick coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk and add to the pot, cook several minutes until thick and fragrant. Add the remainder of the coconut milk, fish sauce, the lemongrass paste and the stalk and stir well. Add the chicken and potatoes and cook until done. Stir in the spinach and peas and heat for a couple of minutes. Remove the lemongrass stalk before serving.
To plate, I like to mound some jasmine rice in a bowl and pour the curry over it. Garnish with green onions and serve with a wedge of lime on the side.
Each bite of this colorful curry is a mix of exotic and fragrant spices, mixed in a sweet creamy coconut sauce with chicken and vegetables. Green and yellow curries are much milder than red curries but can be made spicier with the addition of a fresh chili if you wish. If you happen to live in an area that has an Asian market, you can make the curry more authentic by making your own curry paste and using galangal, kaffir leaves and Asian spinach. Instead of the spinach, you can use Thai basil or cilantro to give the curry its bright green color. No matter how you prepare this year round dish, the slightly sweet, salty, and spicy flavors of green coconut curry will lead you back for more.
If you enjoy curries, you might enjoy reading: Thai Red Pork Curry