Green curry? Isn’t curry always yellow? Not in Thai cooking where curry can be red, yellow or green depending on the chili used and what other ingredients are added.
Red curry has red chilies, yellow curry has turmeric and green curry is made with green chilies and, often, a combination of herbs.
Then, there’s what they call jungle curry and massaman curry. Each has a different flavor profile and some are spicier than others.
Oh, I’ve had them all. I’ve been eating yellow curry since I was a child but the rest I was only able to experience as an adult. I love the richness and mild spiciness of massaman curry. But jungle curry I found overwhelming. Cooked without coconut milk, there’s no sweetness to offset the heat.
Green curry is mildly spicy. The best I ever had was at the Blue Elephant Restaurant in Bangkok. Creamy with the heat just right so that the taste buds don’t feel paralyzed. That’s green curry in the blue bowl (the full story about the Bangkok food trip was published in the newsletter).
For home cooking, unless you’re in for the challenge of making your curry paste from scratch, curry is available in powder or paste form. That’s true for yellow, red and green curry. Curry paste is used in this recipe. How much you need depends on how hot you want your dish. Green curry is milder than other curries but use too much and you can still end up with a dish so fiery you’ll want to gulp down a few glasses of milk with your meal.
I like to start by tossing the ground pork in an oil-free pan until fat has been rendered. Onion, garlic and ginger are added and everything is sauteed together. Once the vegetables have softened a bit, the green curry paste is stirred in and the cooking continues until the paste has been soaked up by the meat and the mixture is almost dry.
Next come the vegetables and coconut cream. The mixture is left to simmer until the vegetables are done.
The peas and fried tofu, I add last. The peas I just want to heat up and the tofu cubes are already cooked so I just want to give them enough time to soak up the flavors in the sauce.
This curry dish is almost dry. I like it that way. If you prefer a saucier one, add half a cup of thin coconut milk to the half cup of coconut cream and cook as described below.
Green curry pork, vegetables and tofu
- 1 tablespoon vegetable cooking oil
- 250 grams ground pork (you may substitute ground beef, chicken, veal, turkey or lamb)
- 1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 thumb-sized knob ginger peeled and chopped
- fish sauce to taste
- 2 heaping tablespoons green curry paste
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
- 2 stalks celery cut into half-inch slices
- ½ cup coconut cream
- ⅓ cup peas (no need to thaw if frozen)
- 1 to 1 ½ cups lightly fried tofu cubes
- fresh Thai basil leaves to garnish
- cooked rice to serve
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add the ground meat, breaking up any clumps. Cook until no longer pink.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with fish sauce. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until fragrant, about two minutes.
- Add the curry paste, stir well and cook for another minute.
- Add the carrot cubes and celery. Stir and cook for a minute.
- Pour in the coconut cream. Stir and continue cooking, uncovered, for another minute.
- Add the peas. Cook for a minute longer. Taste, add more fish sauce if needed.
- Add the tofu. Stir. Cook until the tofu is heated through. Because the tofu has not been seasoned, you may need to add more fish sauce at this stage.
- Ladle hot rice into a bowl and spoon the curry beside or on top of the rice.
- Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the curry and rice.