Authentic Thai red curry recipe with chicken is delicious and quickly put together. The curry is extra creamy with a bold, spicy, sweet, and salty flavor from the coconut milk, red curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the kaffir lime leaves; make this Thai recipe an instant favorite!
If you love to cook Thai food, curries, and coconut and want more authentic Thai recipes in your life, you need to check these SUPER EASY AND DELICIOUS CURRY RECIPES. Like this Easy Thai yellow curry chicken recipe, Easy green curry recipe, easy red curry green beans with shrimp (Pad Prik King). These are all coconut soup-based curries with many different levels of spiciness that you can put together in a very short amount of time.
Why this Recipe Works
- You can use any cut of chicken meat for this curry. Chicken thighs, drumsticks, or tenderloins work great for this recipe. You can also use beef or pork.
- This chicken curry recipe uses store-bought Thai curry paste, Mae Ploy Brand, a very popular brand, making this curry a very quick dish to put together.
- Using coconut cream and coconut milk helps buffer the spiciness of the red curry paste. And the extra creaminess is just irresistible!
- The use of bamboo shoots, which have an earthy and slight crunch taste, adds to the authenticity of this coconut cream-based curry recipe.
Below is the ingredient list and some of the unique Asian ingredients you’ll need to make an authentic Thai red curry recipe.
- Kaffir lime leaves. The Kaffir lime rinds and leaves have a distinctive fragrance and flavors that often set Thai cuisine apart from other dishes. Look for them in the freezer section of your Asian markets. Read how you can use kaffir lime leaves and substitute.
- Bamboo Shoots. You can find canned bamboo shoots at your Asian markets. They come as strips, slices, or whole. Just be sure to slice the whole bamboo into bite-size pieces before cooking. You will also need to drain and soak the bamboo in the cans before cooking to remove the metallic flavor from the tin can.
- Coconut milk and cream. I used canned and boxed coconut milk and cream for this recipe. The cream is for the added creaminess and richness of an Authentic Thai curry. Delicious! Grab the full fat and unsweetened coconut milk and cream when picking up coconut milk. See the image above for reference.
- Red curry paste. A pantry staple, my top 3 go-to Thai brands of curry pastes are Pae Ploy, Aroy D, and Mae Sri.
- Thai Basil. Thai basil has a bold fragrance with a tint of cinnamon-like fragrance. Look for deep green-colored basil leaves with dark purple stems. They are often sold in the refrigerated section of most Asian grocery stores.
Below are the step-by-step photos of how to make the most delicious and authentic Thai red curry chicken recipe.
- Open the can of bamboo, rinse the liquid in a colander, rinse in warm water, place the bamboo slices in a saucepan filled with water, and bring to a boil on medium heat for 10 minutes. Discard the brine, drain the bamboo slices, and set them aside for a minute.
- Heat the coconut cream in a soup pot on medium-high heat until the coconut cream starts to separate. *(See recipe notes about the separation of the coconut milk.)
- Turn the heat to medium, then add the curry paste and garlic. Break up the curry paste, stir and cook until the sauce is thickened and creamy.
- Add chicken and bamboo slices, and stir well together.
- Add coconut milk and stir well together. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
- Add brown sugar, kaffir lime leaves and stir together. Cook for two more minutes.
- Turn the heat off, add the basil leaves, stir, and let the curry cool off for 5 minutes. You can add fish sauce here if you need a more salty taste to your curry. (optional.) You can also add extra chilis if you want more spiciness. Diced up some Thai fresh chilis and sprinkled them on top of your bowl, and you're set.
That's it! Serve this amazing authentic Thai red curry with jasmine rice and garnish with more basil leaves.
Coconut Milk Separation
This cooking technique will help you get your curry's most creamy, rich coconut flavor. Let's do a quick lesson on how coconut milk is made to help us understand a bit more about this method.
Coconut milk is made by mixing coconut flesh with water to create coconut milk we use in our cooking. Coconut has a lot of naturally fatty oils in it. Think creamy, rich coconut milk. Since oil and water don't mix well, some manufacturers add chemicals, and emulsifiers, to stabilize the mixing of water and coconut fats.
When cooking coconut milk that has emulsifiers added to it, the fat will not separate from the water, causing your coconut milk to not "break" or "crack" or "separate" from each other. Think of emulsifiers as rings that " bind" the two ingredients together. (: BUT, this is not a good thing for our authentic curries, though. We want the two to separate so we get the rich and creamy flavor of the coconut milk extracted by breaking up the two ingredients. The signature taste and look of authentic Thai curries that we want more of!
If your coconut milk will not separate no matter how long you cook it, it means your coconut milk has emulsifiers added to it. All is not lost, though. If this happens, there are three things you can do.
- Continue as is, and your curry will still be creamy and delicious.
- Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your curry paste while it's still cooking on the stove. It will help add a little extra richness to the curry.
- Pick a different brand of coconut milk for your next round of curry making.
Helpful Recipe Notes
- Fresh bamboo shoots are hard to find; canned bamboo shoots are a good substitute. *See note below on canned bamboo shoots before cooking.
- If you are new to Thai cooking, I highly recommend using curry pastes to start and experiment with different brands. Later on, I will share my homemade curry paste recipes.
- If you can't find Thai basil, you can use Italian basil, the more common one in most Western grocery stores. It's better to have some type of basil than nothing at all. I'm not too strict about this, especially when Thai basil isn't as readily available during winter.
What Spices and Herbs are in Thai Red Curry Paste?
Thai Red curry paste is a blend of dried Thai red peppers, galangal, lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, shallot, kaffir lime leaves and rind, and salt. The ingredients are pounded and seasoned in a mortar and pestle or food processor to form a curry paste to make curry dishes.
Where to Find Ingredients for Authentic Thai Red Curry Recipe?
If you venture out to your local Asian market, you will find that these ingredients are easy to locate. Some of them are in the freezer section. Print out or screenshot the images from this blog post (the ingredient shot above) to bring you to the Asian markets. Remember to ask for help if you can't find certain things! Some items you can find in your local grocery store, but for the other items pictured, you can find some of them in the links below. These are the brands I use and will add to the authenticity of your recipes since they are Thai brands.
- Red Curry Paste, Mae Ploy Brand
- Red Curry Paste, Aroy D Brand
- Curry Pastes, Red, Yellow, Green
- Coconut Milk
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