Back in my gluten-eating days, I lived near a great hole in the wall Thai restaurant. Literally, the place is a garage with a retractable door. Back then, each plate lunch or dinner cost less than $5, which meant than even an under-employed person like myself (I’d taken the summer off to surf… oh how I miss my carefree early 20s) could dine like a king.
While I loved trying new-to-me dishes like Thai crispy noodles, Tom Ka Gai soup, and Pad Kee Mao noodles, their green curry with chicken, eggplant and bamboo shoots (the #12!) was in high rotation. I loved the thick, rich and spicy curry sauce that coated the chicken and veggies and seeped into the accompanying rice. That curry also probably deserves most of the credit for building up my heat tolerance for spicy foods.
I haven’t been to that restaurant in years and years (they use a glutinous oyster sauce in just about everything), it was easy to recreate the dish at home with the help of some store bought curry paste. And although the paste alone will give you a perfectly decent curry, adding a couple extra items like fish sauce, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves and some Thai basil transforms it into restaurant-quality.
Although I listed all of my favorite curry add-ins, the only ones I consider absolutely essential are the fish sauce and the Thai basil. So don’t skip the curry if you’re only missing the Kaffir lime leaves or the lemongrass- it’ll still be excellent without them. You can also up the amount of eggplant if you’re not a fan of bamboo shoots. I make it that way quite often, but added the bamboo shoots in this time for nostalgia’s sake.
Spicy Thai Green Curry with Chicken, Eggplant and Bamboo Shoots
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
* 2 Tablespoons oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 pound boneless chicken, cut into strips or large chunks
* 3 cups thin eggplant slices, no larger than about 1-1/4″ in diameter(about 1 small Italian eggplant or one large Japanese eggplant)
* 1/4 cup green curry paste (I typically use Mae Ploy)
* 1 cup coconut milk
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1-1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
* 1 teaspoon regular or palm sugar
* 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised and cut into several inch pieces
* 4-5 Kaffir lime leaves
* 1 cup bamboo shoots, well rinsed (make sure to buy the matchstick shoots rather than the bamboo tips)
* 1/4 cup roughly chopped Thai basil leaves
Heat the oil in a work or extra large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to change from pink to white. Add the eggplant and cook, continuing to stir frequently, until the eggplant begins to soften.
Push the chicken and eggplant to the perimeter of the pan and add the curry paste. Let the paste cook in the oil for about a minute or so and then add the coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves and bamboo shoots. Stir well and then let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover (set the lid partially askew) and let simmer until the sauce has thickened the chicken is cooked through. Add the Thai basil and give everything a quick stir. Serve hot.