A savoury coconut dish vs a sweet coconut dish! Here’s to our first one ingredient, two recipes series! On the sweet side we have our coconut macaroons but on the savoury side we’ve gone for a flavour bomb! This Thai red curry, made with fresh coconut milk, will blow your mind!
Fresh Coconut Milk
Absolutely nothing can compare to the taste of fresh coconut milk. It’s so much sweeter and flavourful than the tinned variety! Coconut milk can easily be made at home. There are different levels of coconut milk classified as first, second and third milk or pressing. The ‘first milk’ is made with very little hot water, this results in a thick milk that’s incredibly sweet and is used to garnish dishes at the end of a cook. This milk can’t be boiled because it will split. The first pressing is usually added once the dish is done cooking. The second pressing is made with more water and is used in curries or dishes which need to be boiled. This milk won’t split. Some people also get a third pressing by repeating the steps but the ‘third milk’ is not as flavourful as the first two.
Red Curry Paste
This is the most crucial element of the recipe and we’re going to use one out of a can! Even local Thai people use ready made Thai curry paste now. While we grow bird’s eye chilli, Thai basil, ginger and spring onions at home, ingredients like lemongrass and galangal are often hard to come by. You can find a ton of different brands both online and in store; test a few out and find your favourite! We’ll also use some fresh aromatics to boost the flavour.
The coconut milk requires a couple of spins in the mixer so you could ideally use any but I would gladly recommend the Wonderchef Sumo Silverado 1000W Mixer Grinder. It comes with four different jars of which the largest 1.5 litre jar is ideal for making coconut milk. It’s large enough to hold the coconut milk and water, and it’s also got a convenient removable top that you can use to quickly add more water without removing the entire lid. Thanks to the ergonomic handles, you get a good grip on the jars, especially the larger ones. There’s a lot of straining in this recipe so it’s good to have a sturdy machine that’s easy to hold.
The Thai Red Curry needs to be made in a wok and luckily the Wonderchef Granite Set with Free Dosa Tawa has just the one for you! Thanks to the 5 layered professional grade Meta Tuff non stick coating, this set will last you for years with the proper care. I’ve been using it for almost a year now and usually by now I’d see some chipping of the non-stick coating but the entire set has held up wonderfully! They’re also so stylish! I love the cool grey palette because it goes so well with my kitchen.
Rice is a fan favourite but I’m not a big fan of rice so I like to eat my red curry with millets! You can also serve it with quinoa or brown rice. The reason rice is preferred is because it has a neutral flavour which really allows the flavours of the curry to shine. I also enjoy having this curry with some flatbread! A nice fresh cucumber salad can help soothe the heat from the curry.
For the Fresh Coconut Milk
- 1 Coconut, Grated (About 4 cups)
- ¼ cup Hot Water
- 2 cups Room Temperature Water
For the Thai Red Curry
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 8 Shallots
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece of Ginger
- 3 birds eye chilli
- 2 ½ Tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
- 2 tsp Fish Sauce*
- 1 cup Fresh Coconut Milk (Second Pressing)
- ½ cup Tofu
- 1 small Red Pepper
- 1 small Yellow Pepper
- Salt to taste
Fresh Coconut Milk
- Gather your grated coconut and sprinkle ¼ cup of hot water as even as possible over it.
- Gather handfuls of the coconut and squeeze together over a glass to release and collect the milk. Repeat until you finish with all the coconut. This is thick coconut milk also known as ‘first milk’ or milk from the first pressing. Set aside.
- Take the remaining coconut meat and add it to a large mixer.
- Add 2 cups of water and pulse for a few seconds.
- Strain the coconut to separate the milk. This is a thinner milk which is known as ‘second milk’.
- You can repeat steps 3-5 to get the ‘third milk’ as well.
Thai Red Curry
- Begin by preparing the vegetables. Chop the peppers into long strips, finely dice the onions, garlic and ginger and split the chillies in half.
- Prepare the tofu according to the instructions on the packet. You can wash the tofu in warm water and then chop it into 1 inch cubes. Boil the cubes for a few minutes and set aside to add to the curry.
- Place a large wok on medium heat and add the coconut oil to it.
- Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and sautée until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook until the raw smell goes away.
- Add a little more oil if needed and add the red curry paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the curry paste is cooked, add the bell peppers and tofu and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the 2nd press coconut milk and fish sauce and stir until the paste is dissolved. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
- Taste the curry at this point and add some salt if needed.
- Garnish with coriander and spoonfuls of the thick first milk you set aside earlier.
- Serve with rice, noodles, millet or flatbread and Enjoy!
* If you would like to omit the fish sauce it’s totally fine. I like the flavour it adds but the dish will work perfectly fine without it as well. You can substitute it with soy sauce as well.
Author: Sneha Sundar is the creator of You Dim Sum, You Lose Some; a philosophy she adopts both in and out of the kitchen.