To many, Thai food seems intimidating. It has lots of unfamiliar ingredients and seemingly difficult cooking techniques. However, Thai food from scratch is easier than you may think, and with a a few recipes, you can make countless different dishes!
My love of Thai food began in culinary school, during a Thai master class. Two chefs from the Suan Dusit international culinary school in Bangkok came to our school, and taught a two week intensive in Thai food. We learned countless different dishes, became familiar with unfamiliar ingredients, and tried new things I never thought I would try. I finished the program with a binder of recipes and a head full of new knowledge! I fell in love with the culture during those two weeks. I had already been planning a trip to Thailand (the reason I took the course) to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in rural northern Thailand, so I went with a greater appreciation of the food I was about to eat.
Every meal I ate was a new, mouthwatering experience. I was fortunate enough to stay in a family home in a very small northern village, and was exposed to regional cuisine I had never had at any restaurant in America!
Here are all of the elephant sanctuary workers about to dig in to a delicious meal made for us by the village families!
One meal that I will never forget was my first Thai green curry in Chiang Mai city. I had eaten green curry before, but never like this! It transcended delicious to the divine. Green curry is forever one of my favorite Thai dishes. Also, green curry was something I knew how to make from the Thai master class already and was dying to try my hand at it.
Most of the more "unusual" ingredients can be found in specialty Asian markets, such as Tai Nam on Broadway (4925 N Broadway) in Chicago. I took the recipe I got from the Thai master class and adjusted to amount of chilies to cut back a little on the heat, and added a little more lemongrass, ginger, and garlic to suit my taste. The paste was hard to blend so I added a bit of water, just enough to get it moving. But too much will mean watery curry paste! Everyone has different tastes, and the nature of curries is to adjust to taste. Add more chilies if you love the heat, or pare back on the galangal if you don't like the peppery bite. It's up to you! I offer my recipe to you; feel free to improvise as necessary.
Thai Green Curry
4 small or two large shallots
Six garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce
15 fresh green chilies
3 stalks lemongrass
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon fresh Galangal
4 Kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
Combine in a blender, blend until smooth.
Heat sauté pan, saute paste until aromatic. Use 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup of paste to one can of coconut milk, more or less depending on taste. Add coconut milk, and whisk well, making sure to combine everything. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
This is only the recipe for the base curry sauce. With this, you can add any vegetables or meat you want. When I made this last, I added chicken, eggplant and squash and served over rice. You can do pretty much anything you want using this delicious Thai green curry as your base!