Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Kiaw Wan)

The Lowdown:

I'm not sure that I've ever gone out for Thai food and not ordered a variation of this dish. It always manages to catch my attention, despite my best efforts to explore the remainder of the menu. In the end, what does it matter? Get a doggy bag and take it all home for later. However, this post isn't an meant to be an ode to my favourite Thai restaurants in town. Nor is it meant to praise one of my favourite "poor me, poor me, I'm sick and need a cure" recipes (although seriously, all that garlic, ginger, and shallots is a wonderful preventative medicine). No, this post is intended for something far more devious -- playful revenge.

I feel that over this holiday season, a bit of public payback is in order. Being the perfect son that I am, I decided that my parents would probably love a break from cooking while I was in their neck of the [urban] woods. Given that I love cooking, and they were paying for the groceries, it seemed perfect. Oh god how much I miss them paying for groceries.

Winters in Toronto can be quite brisk, making a spicy Thai green curry the perfect dish to make. After braving the cold, then fighting tooth and nail in the grocery store (December 23 in a grocery store is near suicide) I came home to the question, "why didn't you just buy the packaged green curry paste?" Oh, the humility! If this wasn't enough, it was soon followed by, "if it's not good, you still have time to go to the store and buy the packaged stuff." Oh lord, please help me restrain myself. And now everyone knows the antics I must deal with.

The Playlist:

Curry Paste:
4 Serrano peppers, chopped
1 large piece Ginger, chopped
2 Shallots, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, stems only
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 Lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed then chopped
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Fish sauce
1 tsp Coriander, ground
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp White pepper, ground

1 lb Mussels, fresh
1/2 lb Prawns
2 cups Shitake mushrooms, coursely chopped (optional)
Vegetables, julienne (optional)
3 cups Sui choy, chopped
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 can Coconut milk
2 cups Chicken broth (optional)
5 Kaffir lime leaves
Thai basil leaves, to taste
Thai chili peppers, to taste
Coriander, to taste

The Skinny:

After trial and error, along with a helpful tip, I found that an immersion blender is the easiest way with the best results. Apparently it releases the fragrance and oils of each of the curry paste ingredients. Optimally, a stone mortar and pestle works best, but it takes much longer and I don't own one.

  1. In immersion blender measuring cup (tall and thin): add lemongrass, ginger, and serrano peppers. Using immersion blender mince until a grainy paste forms. Then add shallots, garlic, and lime peels and repeat the blending process. Finally add the remaining curry paste ingredients and repeat the blending process.
  2. The curry paste makes a dish for 5-7 people. Or it can be separated into two dishes for 2-3 people. The remainder of the instructions are for the smaller portion. For the larger portion you can double the ingredients or add them as you please. The paste can be refrigerated for two weeks or frozen.
  3. In large wok: heat oil on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add curry paste and cook until fragrant (about 5 minutes). This requires constant stirring so that the paste doesn't burn. Add 1/4 of the coconut milk and continue mixing until it becomes the same consistency as a thin guacamole. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the remaining coconut milk and bring back to a gentle boil. Add chicken broth and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes. 
  4. Remove 2 cups of liquid and set aside.
  5. To wok: If bell peppers and celery are desired add them now and cook for 5 minutes. Add Thai basil, Thai chili peppers, mushrooms, and kaffir lime leaves and remove from heat.
  6. Remove curry from the wok and place in a serving dish and set aside.
  7. In wok: on high heat add the liquid that was set aside and bring to a boil. Add mussels and prawns and cover. Cook until mussel shells open (about 2-3 minutes). Remove all mussels that remained shut. 
  8. Add mussels, broth, and prawns to the serving dish.
  9. Serve with rice and the chopped sui choy. Pouring the broth over the sui choy in individual bowls cooks it just enough so that it remains firm.

Stay Rad -h
Featured on: Premeditated Leftovers33 Shades of GreenChef in TrainingFood Renegade, Foodie Friday,  



  1. oh my goodness, I love thai food, but have never braved making it myself. I would probably have to stick with the prepackaged stuff :) This sounds delicious though. Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friday!

    1. I would definitely recommend trying it from scratch. I swear it is a lot easier than it sounds! Thanks for stopping in and commenting (always appreciated)


  2. This sounds delicious! I've been experimenting with curry the last few months and this one will have to go on the must-try list. Adding it to Hearth & Soul Hop highlights this week too! :)

    1. Thank you for highlighting it! It's a lot of fun to experiment with them, which is why they are one of my favourite meals to cook (not to mention the aromas). Thanks for stopping in.


  3. This really does sound scrumptious. I love learning how to make curry pastes from scratch. They always taste so much better, and of course are so much healthier. The photographs of your Thai Green Curry are just mouthwatering!

    1. I love making them (well, maybe not the eye-watering onion part). The whole reason I started making them was to avoid all of the nasty things in the packaged pastes. I've gotten a bit more skeptical of packaged foods in my old age.