Nothing gives food a spicy Thai kick like green curry paste. Green curry paste is a combination of several seasonings, and like many classic seasoning blends, the exact ingredients change from region to region. However, all green curry pastes contain green Thai chilies. The spicy chilies are as versatile as any pepper and work with an array of ingredients. The most common thing you can make with the paste is a meat or vegetable dish in curry sauce, but it’s far from the only option.
Green Curry Paste 101
In addition to green chilies, green curry paste traditionally contains lemongrass, wild lime peel, coriander, cumin and galangal – a relative of ginger. The paste may also include ginger, shrimp paste, wild lime leaves, lime juice and cilantro root. The intricate blend has a mix of sweet, spicy and herbal flavors. Using the paste means you don’t need to use many other seasonings in your dish, since the curry lends a complex flavor to any recipe.
Creating a curry sauce is the most traditional use for green curry paste, and with good reason – it’s a tasty dish. There are many ways to create curry sauce, but most consist of meat or vegetable broth and curry paste mixed with other ingredients. The sauce is cooked with meat or vegetables, and typically served over rice. Simmer chicken broth, green curry paste, coconut milk and cornstarch to create a nutty sauce for stir-fried chicken and white rice. Mix the paste with vegetable broth, soy sauce and sesame seeds for an earthy sauce you can serve over anything from steamed cauliflower to fried tofu. Add a little more broth to the green curry sauce and simmer the ingredients together to turn the dish into a savory soup.
Take plain salad dressing from simple to sensational with a little green curry paste. Stir the paste with olive oil and lemon juice for a classic dressing with a punch of spice. Add the paste to balsamic vinaigrette dressing to give the condiment a sophisticated background flavor. However you mix it, use the flavorful dressing on a simple salad to help keep the tastes balanced. Using the spicy sauce on a complex salad may lead to clashing flavors. Try the curry dressing on a mixed greens salad for a classic side dish or use it on an iceberg lettuce, celery and carrot salad for a garden-fresh taste.
Add green curry paste to a marinade to give almost any ingredient a hint of complex spice. Combine vegetable broth, soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar and green curry paste for a marinade that works for everything from asparagus to shrimp. Mix beef broth, lime juice and green curry paste for a zesty beef marinade. Marinate ingredients anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the intensity of flavor you desire.
Curry bread is a rather gourmet notion that’s easy enough for even a home baker to create using green curry paste. The key is to use just enough paste to give the bread a whisper of flavor, not a shout. Mix a little paste into the wet ingredients before you mix them into the dry ingredients to create basic curry bread. Stick with simple breads, such as country wheat or pita flatbread, for the best flavor pairing. As with salad dressings and salads, the more complex bread flavors tend to clash with the paste.
- Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images