Curries made with coconut milk and spicy Asian curry pastes are one of my favorite quick, real foods. Sometimes they are made with only onion and meat, but I always try to add as many vegetables as I can. Served over rice or rice noodles, curry is a great one-dish dinner that is light-years away from hamburger helper-type skillet meals.
What makes this recipe super easy and even quicker is that it uses cooked chicken or turkey (leftover or from a rotisserie chicken), however it’s easily made with uncooked meat – just cook cut-up pieces before adding all the other ingredients. I also love that this recipe (as are all curries) is super flexible, using whatever vegetables you’ve got on hand. I always try to use carrots and onions and my favorite vegetable, cauliflower, though it’s a dish that makes great use of seasonal vegetables like zucchini, green beans, peas, and broccoli.
The only tricky part comes from trying to figure out how much curry paste to use for your family’s taste. Most of the flavor (and heat) of this dish comes from the Thai curry paste – you want enough to be flavorful, but not so much that it causes your mouth to burn, your eyes to water, and your forehead to sweat (don’t ask me how I know this).
Here’s what I’ve found out through trial and error:
- yellow curry paste is the mildest (and tastes more Indian than the other two)
- red is more spicy
- green will blow your head off
One of my sisters lived in Thailand for a few years and she found that they like to laugh at American’s lack of ability to eat spicy food. I think she worked up to more spicy things, but she said their idea of “mild” is our equivalent of smoke coming out of our ears.
So in my semi-spicy loving family, I use 1-2 teaspoons of green curry paste to two cans of coconut milk, 2-4 teaspoons of red curry paste, and about a tablespoon of yellow. The main point here is to go slow, and taste after you’ve added a small amount. You can always put more in, but you can’t take it out, as we know, right?
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1-2 Tb. olive, peanut or coconut oil
- 3 cups chopped,cooked chicken or turkey (to use uncooked - simply saute in pan first, then add the vegetables)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tb. fish sauce
- yellow, red, or green spicy curry paste (1 tsp. to 1 Tb. according to taste)*
- 5-6 c. mixed vegetables of choice: sliced carrots, zucchini, chopped broccoli, cauliflower or sweet peppers, cut green beans, peas
- rice or rice noodles for serving
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. (Cook chicken now if not using precooked, remove from pan, chop and set aside.) Add the onion, garlic, and any hard vegetable that needs sauteing (carrots, cauliflower, etc.). Saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cooked poultry, and remaining vegetables along with the coconut milk and fish sauce, stirring well.
- Add the curry paste to taste, being careful to monitor the spiciness. Start with only 1 tsp. of green, 1-1/2 tsp. of red or just less than a Tb. of yellow.
- Bring to a low boil and cook for another 5 minutes to let the flavors meld and cook the vegetables to just crisp-tender.
- Serve over rice or rice noodles.