Thai Green Curry with Chicken & Asparagus
Transform the mood in your kitchen with the fragrant aroma of Thai green curry and the fresh flavor of asparagus.
Makes: 4 • Prep Time: 10 mins • Cook Time: 50 mins
Thai Green Curry with Chicken & Asparagus
Thai green curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan) has always been a favorite of mine, not only because of its aromatic flavors but also its adaptability. Although asparagus is not an authentic Thai vegetable addition, it felt internationally acceptable to add our gracious spears to this verdant meets exotic-spicy dish. It should be no surprise to know that the green in Thai green curry comes from the green chilli but perhaps more surprising are the kaffir lime leaf and cilantro additions. Although considered a sweet curry, this term is derived from the color and not the flavor–although a little sugar is added along with the coconut milk to give the Thai green curry a fuller flavor. This curry is considered more pungent and spicier than the milder Thai red curry using red chilli.
If you decide to buy pre-made Thai green curry paste, then the job of locating various specialist ingredients, such as galangal and kaffir lime leaf, is taken care of. That said, if you are fortunate to be close to a specialist Asian market, then I urge you to try making your own fresh, authentic Thai green curry paste as it gives you more control over ingredient proportions. Not only that, but a totally new culinary experience opens up when exotic ingredients take up space in your fridge alongside the broccoli florets and asparagus spears. You’ll appear knowledgeable as you drop ‘galangal’ and ‘Thai basil’ casually into conversation. Once you have the ingredients, all you need is a decent blender (or the authentic way of blending, using a pestle and mortar). With a little bit of time pursuing, as well as preparing, the ingredients, the results will be worth it.
I urge you to try making your own fresh, authentic Thai green curry paste as it gives you more control over ingredient proportions.
Before embarking on this culinary exotic journey, it is worth knowing a little about these ingredients. The galangal root is from the same family as ginger and even looks similar but the taste is dissimilar with a stronger, more peppery flavor. It is also considered to be an upscale version of ginger where it is often used as a tonic with lime juice. Preparing galangal is a similar process to preparing ginger, requiring either a sharp knife or a peeler to remove the tough skin, and is then finely sliced.
Kaffir lime leaf is also integral to this dish. It is a waxy leaf that is added whole to the cooking and removed before serving, or sliced finely into pastes. And lemon grass! Another Thai green curry staple, with a mild citrus flavor used in chicken, fish and beef dishes. The lemony aromas it brings blend well with grassy asparagus flavors. When using lemon grass, choose a fresh piece that has been de-layered, otherwise the paste could take on a tough, stringy texture that is hard to remove through blending–and no one will thank you for that.
I am a big fan of basil in Italian cooking, where the sweet basil variety is typically used. Basil, though, comes in many different varieties and Thai basil used in this particular recipe is used in cooking throughout the southeast Asian subcontinent. The aroma of this basil is reminiscent of anise and has a pungent, sweet flavor with a delicately spicy kick. Holy basil is also popular in Thai cooking and has a more peppery flavor than the Thai basil, and can also be used as an alternative in this recipe. Whether holy or Thai, the flavors of these basils will make a big difference to the overall aromatics of your curry. If the sweet Italian variety is the only basil you have access to, then I would suggest using it sparingly and add only at the very end.
Assuming the spice in the Thai green curry paste is relatively mild, I would suggest either a Sauvignon Blanc that picks up the grassy flavors or, better still, why not try a rosé with a little residual sweetness that is great at balancing out that beautifully fragrant spice.
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Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Mix all of the ingredients of the Thai green curry paste together in a blender.
Heat the groundnut oil in a hot pan and add the paste. Stir-fry for a few minutes then add the raw asparagus chunks, garlic and green peppercorns. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Stir frying the asparagus
Add the cubed chicken pieces to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
Mix together the boiled chicken stock, fish stock and palm sugar in a jug and then stir into pan.
Simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups of Jasmine rice to either a rice cooker or a pan and cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Add some chopped cilantro and holy basil to the green curry approximately 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with a cilantro or Thai basil garnish and a sprinkle of partially crushed cashews on top of the Thai green curry or the rice.
The finished masterpiece!
For the Thai green curry paste:
- 3 green chillies – seeds removed and finely chopped
- 4 shallots – chopped finely
- 2 lemongrass stalks – de-layered leaving soft interior and finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves – chopped
- 1 ½ inch cube of galangal – peeled and chopped
- 1 ½ cube of ginger – peeled and chopped
- 5 kaffir lime leaves – sliced
- 1 cup of cilantro leaves and stalks – chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk taken from 15 oz can for curry (see below)
For the peppered asparagus sauce:
- 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil
- 1 Ib chicken boneless thighs or breasts – skinned and cut into cubes
- 12 asparagus – sliced diagonally into 1 inch chunks
- 4 garlic cloves – thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon green peppercorns – partially crushed
- 15 oz can of coconut milk
- 15 oz chicken stock
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- 1 cup cilantro – chopped
- 2 tablespoons Thai basil – chopped
- Extra cilantro or Thai basil and a few partially crushed cashews for garnish
- 2 cups Jasmine / Thai fragrant rice.
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Who’s Cooking Today
I’ve sampled exotic and unusual foods on my travels, but nothing beats coming home and sharing my experiences in the kitchen and in my writing. I love the sticky leftover goo of barbecued pork ribs that my kids can’t quite polish off on their own; I yearn for the safe and homely aroma of roast chicken as I pull it from the oven; I adore the sizzle and smell of broiled bacon on a wet Sunday morning. Food will always be my friend as it is meant for sharing. You can enjoy my written and visual translation of taste at jambip.com or via the various social media channels.
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