Based on a Fine Cooking recipe from Feb/Mar 2010.

I’ve been loving on the red Thai curry recently.  It used to be, that I’d walk into a Thai place and get the pad thai, no questions asked.  I’d go to Thai restaurants just for that dish–kind of like going to a diner and ordering the fried chicken (which is my spouse’s favorite tactic).  I had no idea what anything else even tasted like.

Eventually, I shook things up a bit and ordered different things.  Until I got to the red curry.  At that point, I stopped ordering anything else.  It may take years to get this obsession out of my system.

But now I know how to make it myself:  by picking up a container of red Thai curry paste.

What?!?  A prepared spice mix?  Aren’t you trying to cook things for yourself?!?

Yes, but.

It is soooo good.  And I wouldn’t have put in dried shrimp.  Not in a million years.  I used Mae Ploy red curry paste (ingredient list:  dried red chili, garlic, lemongrass, salt, shallot, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel, pepper.  No msg, preservative, or color).

It strikes me that fish sauce may come off as alien and odd-sounding. It isn’t. It’s just Thai-style worchestershire sauce, less smoky-tasting and just a touch more fishy. No worries. Come to think of it, I’ve never tried to use Lea and Perrin’s in Thai. Maybe next time.

Here’s the recipe:

Red Thai Curry

1 T olive oil
3 T curry paste
2 c snap peas
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 can coconut milk (don’t buy the cheap stuff)
soy sauce
fresh basil leaves (one package, or a cupful if you can swing it), torn or cut into smaller pieces
1 lime’s worth of fresh lime juice, with lime zest
1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T fish sauce (nuoc mam or similar)
(3-4 kaffir lime leaves, if you have them)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the curry paste, shallots, and chicken, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned but not cooked through.  Add the coconut milk (and lime leaves, if using), cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the peas, red pepper, basil, lime juice, and fish sauce and remove from heat, covered, and let sit for a minute to integrate.  Season to taste with soy sauce. Serve over long-grain rice.  (I used jasmine, just because I could!  Yay for grocery stores.)

Something for me to think about – the Asia Market has live blue crabs.  I so want to make this curry with blue crabs on top, to crunch up.  However, I am still working myself up to being able to kill (and CLEAN!) live crabs.  Dunno.  Watch this space.