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Yaad’s Red Curry Chicken
April 14, 2011  |  by jess m  |  Cooking, Tastes

Here is how you make Yaad’s Red Curry Chicken. The full recipe is below the pictures. Mmmm.

Yaad spent time explaining the various ingredients used in Thai cooking. Here she explains the difference between Ginger and Galanga. Galanga is less herbal and more peppery than Ginger. Both are integral in Thai cuisine.

Chilis, lemongrass, ginger, galanga, garlic, and shallots wait to become our curry paste.

Jess C takes copious notes. Yaad makes sure she doesn't screw anything up.

Everything goes into the blender to make the paste. Or into a mortar and pestle to mash by hand, if you have a few hours to spare.

Garlic and shallots are added to hot oil and cooked until you get a "good smell."

Yaad talks a lot about cooking something until you get a "good smell." It sounds a little abstract, but once you start cooking you'll know when you get the good smell.

The curry paste is cooked until it is the proper consistency.

The chicken is added and allowed to cook in the sauce.

The masterpiece is complete.

It's that good.

Red Curry Chicken
(Serves 2-4)


Galangal, 2-3 thin slices
Lemongrass, 2 tbsp. sliced into think rings
Red Thai pepper (often called bird pepper), 3 or more chilies depending on your taste
Black peppercorn, ½ teaspoon
Shallot or boiling onion, 2 sliced small
Fresh garlic, 6 cloves
Shrimp paste, 1 teaspoon
Dry red pepper flakes,
Cumin, 1 teaspoon
Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
Coconut milk, 1 can
Water, 2 tbsp
Vegetable oil, 1 tbsp
Sugar (raw or cane), 1 teaspoon
Salt or fish sauce, to taste
Chicken breast, one whole, sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
Pineapple cubes, optional


1. Soak red Thai chilies and black peppercorns in water until red chilies are soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Add red chilies, peppercorn, lemongrass, ½ shallots, ½ garlic, and shrimp paste into a blender or food processor, with about ¼ cup of coconut milk, and blend for several minutes. (You can also do this in a mortar and pestle—which “makes better smell”—but it takes a lot longer). Add a little water as you blend, to get a mixture the consistency of yogurt.

3. In a large pot, heat vegetable oil, and then add remaining shallots and garlic and sauté.

4. When you get “good smell” from the pan, add dry red chili, cumin, and turmeric and stir “not too long” until you “get good color” (maybe about two minutes, on medium heat).

5. Add curry paste, and stir over medium heat until color develops (orangey-yellow), about 1-2 minutes.

6. Put about 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of coconut milk into the emptied blender to get out the remaining curry paste, and pour into pot (this is an important step to getting the right consistency). Cook covered for about 3-5 minutes.

7. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of salt or fish sauce, cook 1 minute.

8. Bring mixture to a mild boil, and then add chicken. Cook covered for approximately 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with steamed rice.

9. Optional but highly recommended: about 2 minutes before the chicken is done, add pineapple cubes. The sweet fruit with the chili spice is an amazing combination.

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  1. I’ll pass on this one–way too much work. Had to laugh at Jess taking copious notes–leave it to an attorney :-)

  2. Kathleen Baushke

    Not sure if my local Albertson’s carries galangal….in fact, what is galangal?! I do want to make this dish…..

    • Kathleen, This is Jess M’s dad. I live in Rochester MN. I can get galangal in any of three oriental food specialty stores here. We don’t have tons of Asian Americans living here where diversity used to be defined as what part of Norway one’s ancestors came from. But there are still enough that even here we can get galangal. Look for a not so flashy oriental food store which you should probably find in the Yellow Pages.

    • You might be able to get it at Albertson’s, in the Asian produce section. It looks a lot like ginger but is a little darker and shiner. If not, I’m sure there’s an Asian market around that has it.

    • Kathleen -

      There is a great Asian market in Goleta in the K-Mart shoppping center by Home Depot. They carry all sorts of Thai and Asian goods, veggies, spices, etc.


  3. It looks like a very scrawny chicken leg in the top right of the first picture. Did you modify the recipe to include a chicken breast rather than something you caught in the backyard?

    I agree with Kathleen that this sounds delicious.

  4. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin.

  5. Made the dish today. Really good, and very easy. Thanks for the research. True ethnic peasant food from a kitchen with a dirt floor is a treasure. Yes, Jess C., it’s really that good! And Laurie T, that chicken’s foot in the photo is the ganalgal.

    • Yay! I’m glad you liked it. Did you try the papaya salad too?

      • Not yet. Papaya is really expensive this time of year, and green papayas are really scarce. Maybe this summer. I reflect back to when we grew our own papayas and had so many that we had to throw them into the sea just to get rid of them! We would have hundreds at a time.

        • Sounds like heaven. I could eat that salad every day. And make it really spicy. You’ll like it that way. We can get green papaya in the asian markets in SF all year, so maybe check there? If not, summer it is.

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