Recipe video above. Thai curries are famous for the sublime aromatic flavours balancing sweet, tart, savoury and spiciness. Thai Yellow Curry is one such magnificent example, with its rich yellow colour, incredible depth of flavour and a heady combination of both fresh and ground herbs and spices.This is made from scratch with a homemade Yellow Curry Paste. There are quite a few ingredients involved but if you truly want the best, it's worth it!This is a creation the RecipeTin Team is proud to call our own - we worked damn hard on it! (Then we celebrated by making another 100 as the first meals we donated through RecipeTin Meals ❤️)SPICINESS: Adjust by varying fresh chilli. Use 1 for extremely mild, 2 for quite mild, 4 for spicy (but not blow-your-head off).
Keyword: Thai yellow curry, yellow curry paste
Thai Yellow Curry Paste:
10dried red chillis(~6cm/2.5" long), chopped into 1cm / 0.5" pieces (Note 1)
1 - 4fresh birds eye chillis, deseeded, roughly (1 for extremely mild, 4 for fairly spicy, Note 2)
2lemongrass stems(Note 3)
1 large or 2 smalleschalots, roughly chopped (~ 1/2 cup) (Note 4)
Soak dried chillis: Roughly chop chillies and transfer to bowl, leaving behind seeds. Cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes then drain (reserve soaking water).
Check spiciness: Have a nibble of soaked chilli, should not be that spicy. If it is spicy, only use 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount (Note 1).
Prepare lemongrass: Remove woody top half and outer layers of lemongrass. Grate with microplane. (See in post or video for preparation demo)
Make curry paste: Place chillis, lemongrass and all remaining curry paste ingredients in a jar just wide enough to fit a stick blender. Add 3 tablespoons chilli soaking water. Blitz with stick blender until smooth so there's no hard grit - rub between your fingers to check - about 15 seconds on high. (Or use small food processor or Nutribullet, scraping down sides well).
Cook off curry paste: Heat oil in a medium heavy based skillet over medium heat. (Mine is a 26cm / 10.5" Lodget cast iron) Add curry paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until it dries out a bit a smells fragrant.
Reduce stock: Add chicken stock, stir to dissolve paste, then simmer for 1 minute.
Add remaining curry sauce ingredients: Reduce heat to medium low. Add tamarind, fish sauce and sugar. Stir until tamarind is dissolved. Then stir in coconut, carrot and potato.
Simmer: Bring to simmer, then simmer gently for 15 minutes or until potato is almost fully soft. Pierce with knife to check, it might take 20 minutes.
Prawns and bamboo shoots: Add prawns and bamboo shoots. Stir, then cook for 3 minutes until prawns are just cooked.
ADJUST sauce: Taste and adjust the curry sauce at this point. Thin sauce with stock or water, add salt, fish sauce or sugar if needed. See Note 17.
Serve! Transfer curry to serving bowl. Garnish with Thai Basil, fresh chilli and crispy shallots. Serve with jasmine rice.
1. Dried chilli - Any dried Chinese or Asian chillis around (~6cm/2.5" long). They are not supposed to be that spicy, they are mainly for flavour and not that much for spiciness (which we get from fresh chilli).CHECK spiciness! That said, it's wise to check. Have a nibble once soaked. If you're concerned it's too spicy, reduce the amount you use. You can always add more spiciness at the end using fresh chillies for garnish but can't undo spiciness! (Note: Standard dried chillies at Asian stores in Sydney are not spicy so can use full amount per recipe)Do not use small Thai chillies - too spicy!2. Fresh chilli - Use birds eye or Thai chillis. 1 chilli = barely spicy at all. 2 chillies = quite mild. 4 chillis = quite spicy but not blow your head off. See in post for how I deseed and chop.3. Lemongrass - Fresh is best but lemongrass paste is an acceptable substitute, use 2 tablespoons. Dried won't be the same, I'm afraid.4. Eschalots - Also known as French onions, and called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh, are finer and sweeter. Not to be confused with what some people in Australia call “shallots” ie the long green onions.They differ in size, use ~ 1/2 cup once chopped (1 large or 2 small).5. Turmeric - STAINS so use gloves and avoid porous surfaces once cut (like plastic cutting boards, stone benches)! Scrape or cut off skin using small knife, spoon or vegetable peeler, then grate using a microplane straight into a ceramic bowl.Turmeric Powder sub – Not the same, but can be done. Use 1.5 tspLeftover turmeric - Make this Golden Turmeric Fish!6. Galangal - Looks like ginger but is more citrusy and harder. Most recipes will tell you just to toss in chunks, but there's a strong chance you end up with grainy curry. So best to grate.Find it in some grocery stores in Australia (Harris Farms and some Woolworths sell it). If you can't find it, use the same amount of ginger + the zest of 1 lime.7. Thai shrimp paste in bean oil - I use Por Kwan brand, the most popular one sold at Asian grocery stores here in Australia. Note: many traditional recipes use ordinary dried shrimp (belacan) but shrimp paste yields a better result, see in post for why.If you can't find Shrimp Paste in oil, Belacan is a substitute that's nearly as good which, believe it or not, is sold at Woolworths in Australia. Use 1.5 tbsp, roughly chop then toast on low heat in 1 tbsp oil for 3 minutes. Then use in place of shrimp paste.8. Fenugreek powder - spice that kind of smells like maple syrup. Available at stores that carry a decent range of spices. I found it at Harris Farms (Australia). Also at Asian and Indian grocery stores.9. Potato - Don't cut any bigger than specified else it may not cook through. I kept making this mistake!10. Coconut cream - Thicker and richer than coconut milk. Look for good quality coconut cream that is 100% coconut like Ayam for better coconut flavour (cheap brands are diluted with water). Coconut milk can be substituted. Low fat not recommended - less flavour and too thin!11. Fish sauce - The salt for this dish which brings it umami and makes it distinctly Thai. Doesn't make fishy once cooked. If you sub with soy sauce, you will be disappointed by lack of depth of flavour!12. Tamarind puree - sour paste used in Asian cooking. Find it in the Asian aisle of large grocery stores (Coles, Woolies).13. Proteins
Prawns - can use frozen, just thaw and drain off excess water well.
Fish - Firm white fish fillets cut into 4cm / 1.3" pieces. Cook as per prawns.
Chicken - use 300g / 10oz chicken thighs (boneless, skinless), add with potato
14. Bamboo shoots - Find these in cans in the Asian or canned vegetable aisle of supermarkets. Use leftover in stir fries!15. Thai Basil Leaves - Tastes like regular basil plus a bit of aniseed flavour. Highly recommended to finish this dish off, it's a traditional herb used for this dish. Best substitute: coriander/ cilantro, followed by Italian basil.16. Crispy fried shallot pieces - Salty little crunchy shallots, tasty garnish! Found in the Asian section of supermarket but cheaper at Asian stores.17. Sauce flavour adjustments - Most fresh curries require a final tweak at the end due to differences in flavour/freshness of ingredients used, how quickly it reduces etc. The final taste should lean mostly savoury, with umami and saltiness from the shrimp paste and fish sauce, with the aromatics subtly coming through. It should be pleasantly sweet but not overly so. The spices should come through. There will be very little tang, just a tiny bit (note tamarind looses much of its acidity when cooked so don’t worry if it initially tastes too sour when you added it). It will be moderately spicy.
Thin sauce with water or stock
Thicken with extra coconut cream.
Salt and umami: fish sauce (1 tsp at time), plain salt if if the fish sauce taste is strong enough but it still needs some saltiness
More spice: use fresh chillies for garnish. Don't add sriracha or chilli sauce into the curry sauce.