Thai curries are a mainstay of traditional Thai cuisine and one of the easiest dishes to make at home. There are three main types of Thai curries—red, yellow, and green—which are categorized by the color of the curry paste. They all share some common ingredients, but the addition of different types of chilies, spices, and herbs add to the overall color and flavor. It’s the color of the chili that imparts each signature hue to the paste, and each curry paste has its own distinct flavor.
It should come as no surprise that red curry is made with the addition of several red chilies, while green curry is made with green chilies, and yellow curry is made with yellow chilies. In Thailand, these chilies have slightly different taste characteristics in addition to their colors. Over time, however, other ingredients have also been added to the curry pastes to enhance each recipe, making them even more distinct from one another.
Red Curry Paste
The most common (and versatile). It’s used in a variety of dishes usually with the addition of coconut milk, making the flavor a little spicy and sweet. Try with vegetables, chicken, salmon, or tofu.
Yellow Curry Paste
The mildest out of the three, it’s the fresh turmeric and sometimes cumin that give it that beautiful color. Try with a little coconut cream and simmer it with some mild white fish or chicken.
Green Curry Paste
Made with green chilies, this curry paste is so flavorful! Lots of cilantro, basil, and Kaffir lime helps round out the spice level. Try it with fish, shrimp, zucchini, or chicken.
When it comes to Thai cuisine, it’s important to refer to both the dish and the curry paste used to make it. As we celebrate Thai cuisine, we hope you feel adventurous to explore with curry pastes in your kitchen! Keep reading for some ideas of how to integrate curry pastes when cooking at home:
Ideas for Using Curry Pastes
Curries and Stews
Probably the most common use for Thai curry paste is in curries and stews. Cook the curry paste in a little oil first to bring out its flavors, then coat proteins — like chicken, pork, or tofu — and vegetables with the warmed paste. Then add stock, coconut milk, or a little of both before slow cooking until it’s flavorful and tender.
For a spicy salad dressing, blend Thai curry into a basic vinaigrette or whisk it into yogurt or mayonnaise for a creamier salad dressing. Use this dressing for green salads, cold noodle salads, or even as a dip for raw vegetables. Make sure to balance out your dressing with some acid, like vinegar or lime juice, and some sweetener if needed.
Mix a small amount with some vegetable oil and a splash of lime juice. Brush meat or let sit in marinade briefly before cooking. A good starting point would be to try yellow for chicken, green for fish, and red for beef.
Thai curry paste can add tons of flavor to seafood dishes, especially more mild-tasting seafood, like white fish or shrimp. Spread it on fish before roasting or steaming, or use it in the saucy base of a mussels or clam dish.
Make a Thai curry sauce and serve it over noodles instead of rice for a change of pace. You can also use Thai curry as a base for stir-fried noodles; just thin it out with some broth or coconut milk before you toss everything together.
The beauty of soups that use Thai curry paste is that you usually don’t have to simmer them for very long since the paste is so flavorful by itself. Many soups combine Thai curry with coconut milk since the milk adds richness and tempers the spiciness of the paste
Looking for a Finished Thai Sauce?
Cooking with curry paste is something that every home cook can do! But if you still find it intimidating or you just want to enjoy the pleasure of a finished sauce, we also recommend a new product to Dorothy Lane Market. It’s a line of authentic Thai sauces created by Watcharee Limanon, a culinary artist from Bangkok. Made from all-natural ingredients, these gluten-free sauces are a great way to prepare authentic Thai dishes at home, whether you choose their Thai Peanut Sauce, Thai Yellow Curry Sauce, Thai Green Curry Sauce, or Thai Massaman Curry Sauce.