Thai Red Curry: Lightened Up

I absolutely love Thai red curry and, for long time, I assumed that it was really complicated to make. When I lived in Philadelphia a few years ago, my friends and I finally asked the owner of our favorite Thai restaurant, Smile Café, how they make their curry. He told us that they basically mix a canned curry paste that you can find at most Asian supermarkets with coconut milk. I always thought that using curry paste would be “cheating,” but I thought: If it’s good enough for Smile, than it’s good enough for me! I’ve experimented with a few brands of curry paste, but have found Maesri to be my favorite.

Since I don’t have an Asian supermarket nearby, I order it online at Whatever you do, don’t use the Americanized red curry paste that is sold at grocery stores like Whole Foods; it’s expensive and tasteless.

Last night, I made a lighter version of this curry to bring for lunch this week. It’s just as flavorful but uses light coconut milk and chicken broth rather than just regular coconut milk. I also loaded it with fresh, green vegetables that I lightly steamed instead of stir frying. To avoid having to stir fry the chicken, I thinly sliced it and added it to the simmering sauce to poach it. Although it’s not traditional, I love adding fresh cilantro to my curry at the end. Thai basil would be delicious as well, but it’s more difficult to find.

Lightened Up Thai Red Curry

2 chicken breasts, very thinly sliced and seasoned with salt
Lots of veggies (sorry, didn’t measure) – I used fresh asparagus and broccoli as well as some defrosted shelled edamame
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. peanut oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
2 tbsp. curry paste – Use more or less depending on how spicy you want it
1 can (13 ½ oz) light coconut milk
¾ cup chicken broth
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. palm sugar – I ordered some online with the curry paste, but you can substitute with brown sugar
Juice of ½ a lime
Handful of bean sprouts
¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Lightly steam the vegetables and set aside.

2. Sauté the onion in a tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok until soft. Add the curry paste and sauté until very fragrant (about a minute).

3. Turn down the heat and add the coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add the palm sugar and stir until it dissolves.

4. Cook down the sauce until it reduces slightly to your desired thickness. Reduce to a low simmer.

5. Add the raw, sliced chicken to the simmering sauce and gently stir until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Add the steamed vegetables into the wok along with the fresh lime juice. Stir until everything is heated through.

7. Stir in the cilantro and bean sprouts. Enjoy!

I serve it with brown rice and a wedge of lime.

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