I have seen many Thai Red Curry Chicken, (Gaeng Ped Gai) recipes online and I have to tell you all… anyone who offers you a “quick and easy” way to make this traditional Thai dish is NOT giving you a real recipe. While the Red Curry Chicken recipe I have is easy, it is NOT quick because making red curry paste, fish sauce and coconut milk into a proper curry takes time and patience, not ten minutes. This will take 40 minutes or more total prep and cooking time.
My husband and I have run this recipe by a Thai chef and he said it was exactly right except for the fact that we used too much chicken. We laughed and told him we like chicken and were not running a restaurant. I could call it Southwest Thai Red Curry Chicken because I use local jalapeños that come right out of our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast garden instead of Thai or serrano chilis. That’s about as southwest as you can get! Serves six with big appetites.
Thai Red Curry Chicken Ingredients
1 1/2 lb chicken breast boned, skinned and cut into 1″ pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken stock/broth
2 1/2 cups coconut milk or 2 – 14 oz (400ml) cans (NOT Coco Lopez cream of coconut as used in piña coladas)
2 cups sweet or Thai basil, leaves and a few buds only – not stems
1 or 2 medium size red bell peppers (capsicum) cut into 1″ cubes
2 medium to large size jalapeños peppers, sliced very thin
1 / 8 or 10 oz can bamboo shoots
2 to 3 tbsp prepared Thai red curry paste – more is hotter!
2 1/2 tsp fish sauce
3 tbsp sugar
2 big lime tree leaves, torn or cut with a serrated knife into 1/4″ strips (Kaffir lime leaves are preferred, but since I can never find them we have our own lime tree – more like a bush – that we pilfer leaves from and they work just fine.)
Have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go...
Par boil the cut chicken in the stock (ad some water if you need to cover it), for just a minute or two and remove from water and set aside, reserving the liquid.
Combine curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and one cup of the coconut milk in a wok. (If you are lucky…the coconut milk has been on the shelf long enough to condense thick at one end of the can, and if so use that for this step! The thicker, the better).
Bring to a boil and reduce over a medium-high heat. Scrape sides and mash the curry so it mixed well into the rest of the ingredients. Don’t let it stick to the bottom of the pan. It should become a thick, darkened, pasty consistency after about 15 minutes. Pockets of reddish oil will begin to form, (see picture), but if this doesn’t happen after 15 minutes add a few tbsp of the reserved stock and reduce some more. Repeat if necessary.
Cook for 10 or so minutes at medium-high stirring and scraping so not to stick to the wok, and then add the remaining coconut milk and a 1/2 cup of the reserved stock.
Just before it boils again add the chicken and cook for a few minutes so chicken is cooked through. Next stir in the bell peppers and jalapeño and bamboo shoots, cooking for a just a few minutes longer so the peppers are no longer raw but a little al dente.
Remove the wok from heat and add lime leaves and basil, stir in and serve immediately over cooked Thai basmati rice. I cook about four cups and that is just about perfect for this much Red Curry Chicken.
I have used this exact recipe for Green Chicken Curry, (using Green Curry Paste), and have also substituted shrimp for the chicken, still utilizing the chicken stock. I have been meaning to try the Shrimp Green Curry using clam juice instead of chicken stock for a more exotic seafood taste, and when I do I’ll let you know if that works out. Some people and restaurants use eggplant and pineapple in this mix too, but I can’t find really good eggplant that often and I don’t like the consistency of pineapple in this particular dish. To each his own, I guess.
Enjoy!!! I certainly do.