There’s nothing more comforting on a cold, winter’s day than a spicy Thai red curry. Not only does it smell and taste great, its soothing spices and fragrant aromas instantly warm me up and has my stomach rumbling in no time.
When I have the time, I love to make my Thai red curry paste from scratch, but this can take time and effort and involves buying the ingredients as fresh as possible to have the most intense and best flavour. Fortunately, you can easily buy Thai red curry paste from the supermarkets or your local Asian grocer which is much more convenient and time saving, especially for that midweek quick dinner.
Like all good Thai recipes, your red curry should incorporate the five flavours of sweet (sugar), salty (fish sauce), sour (lime juice and lemongrass), spicy (red chilli) and creamy (coconut cream). If you prefer your curries hot, you can add in extra fresh chillies to the sauce.
Which Thai red curry paste to buy?
There are a few different brands to look out for: Kan Tong Thai Red Curry Paste, Maesri Red Curry Paste and Ayam Thai Red Curry Paste. I usually opt for the Ayam Thai Red Curry Paste, because it includes a good amount of red chilli (13%) compared to Kan Tong which only uses 6%, but Maesri is also a good choice as well. You can usually get a 195g jar for around $3.30 and you only need to use half the jar for the below recipe. The ingredients include lemongrass, red chilli, galangal, palm sugar, garlic, soy bean oil, salt, shallot, spices (cumin, coriander seed), sugar, coriander root, kaffir lime leaf and yeast extract. It is also free from gluten.
What else can you use Thai red curry paste for?
As well as making a delicious Thai red curry, you can also use red curry paste in:
- Curries (chicken, fish, beef, pork, prawn)
- Marinade on meats
- Fish cakes
- Dressings and condiments
Choosing your salmon
I like to get my fish from the fishmonger where possible, but your local supermarket seafood counter like Coles or Woolworths should also sell them. Choose salmon fillets with the skin still on. I like to choose the tail pieces as they are similar shapes and easier to cook compared to belly pieces which are often chunkier in the middle and thinner at the ends.
Ready to start cooking? Transport yourself to the bustling streets of Bangkok with my quick and easy recipe below, ready in less than 30 minutes.
Thai Red Curry with Crispy Skin Salmon | Serves 2 | Easy | 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 salmon fillets, skin on (approx. 200g each)
- 1 brown onion, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 2cm piece ginger, finely diced
- 100g red curry paste (1/2 a jar of Ayam Thai Red Curry Paste)
- 400ml can coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 lime, juiced
- Steamed green beans
- 1 bunch of pak choy, roughly chopped
- 2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
- 1 red chilli, sliced diagonally
- Coriander leaves, to garnish
- Cooked jasmine rice, to serve
- Take the salmon out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature and pat dry with paper towel.
- Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened and starting to turn golden. Add the ginger and garlic and stir together.
- Add the Thai red curry paste and stir to coat all the ingredients for about 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice and stir together. Bring to the boil.
- Reduce to a simmer for about 7-10 minutes– the sauce should start to thicken up. Taste test – add more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier, more lime juice if you like it sourer, sugar for sweetness and chilli for heat. Add in the green beans and pak choy into the sauce to cook.
- Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and spray with oil. Once the pan is hot, place the salmon skin side down and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes each side, or until cooked. The salmon should be just pink. Take it out of the pan and leave it to rest.
- When ready, place jasmine rice into deep bowls, top with the curry sauce and salmon on top, skin-side up. Garnish with the chopped chilli, spring onions and coriander and serve immediately.
Top tips for the perfect Thai red curry
- If you don’t like fish, you can substitute the salmon for another protein like chicken or beef or tofu for a meat-free option. If using chicken, opt for chicken thighs for a more tender and juicier option.
- Be sure to cook the curry paste with the onions, garlic and ginger to really release the flavours, rather than just adding the coconut milk straight away.
- If you can find it, serve with Thai Basil as well for a slightly aniseed flavour.
- If you have any leftovers, this always tastes better the next day. Why not add in a few prawns to the curry sauce for a light snack!