Gathering ingredients for Thai-inspired curry, an easy one-pan, weeknight meal, photographed on April, 13, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Gathering ingredients for Thai-inspired curry, an easy one-pan, weeknight meal, photographed on April, 13, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

The building blocks of Thai

Curry can be anything you want it to be

By Victoria Petersen

For the Peninsula Clarion

Thai-inspired curry is one of those meals that can be anything you want it to be. The building blocks are your choice of curry (there’s a wide range of brands and flavors you can choose from) plus a coconut milk that gives the curry a creaminess that mellows out the spice.

There are a couple of ingredients you can add to any Thai-style curry to boost the flavor. Fish sauce and a little bit of brown sugar bring salty umami and a bit of sweetness to the typically spicy, savory dish. I include these ingredients when I add in the curry paste. I’ll usually add the paste to a hot pan with oil and shallots or onions, ginger and garlic, and cook until onions or shallots are translucent. This incorporates your base flavors with the curry paste and helps meld everything together. Then I put in any other vegetables that need to cook down, such as the coconut milk, or the proteins if they have a short cooking time, like shrimp.

The way I make Thai curry is a few-step process, sizzling my paste, garlic, ginger and alliums. Then, I add in the meat if needed, or other veggies that need to be cooked down, like zucchini or broccoli.

Next, I add the coconut milk and simmer the dish until it’s ready to eat. Sometimes, right before I take it off the heat, I’ll add in leafy greens or herbs. This keeps the greens and herbs fresh, instead of wilted and cooked down.

There are so many things you can add to this curry though. Sometimes we add noodles and eat it like a soup, other times we serve over rice. Any kind of meat or meat-adjacent protein will work in this, and most of your favorite vegetables will be great. It’s a great dish for cleaning out what needs to be used in the fridge, and also for taking advantage of fresh produce (which will soon be around!).

When looking for Thai curry pastes, there are a few main options: red, yellow and green. There are even more options like panang, maasaman and Indian-style pastes. It will take some experimentation to find which one you like best, but you’ll be looking for something that comes in a can or a jar, or possibly a sealed bag. The paste is typically thick, and only a couple tablespoons are needed in a recipe. You can even learn how to make your own pastes, but I’ve never been so ambitious.

Here is a recipe for a simple and go-to Thai-inspired curry. This recipe is bare bones, so don’t hesitate to add or subtract any of the ingredients. The building blocks are the paste and coconut milk, but other than that, the dish is yours to make with your favorite vegetables, meat and spices.

My weeknight Thai-style curry

2 thinly slice shallots

2 tablespoons of coconut oil, or sesame oil

3 or 4 minced garlic cloves

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

2 tablespoons of the curry paste of your choice

2 teaspoons of fish sauce

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

1 can of coconut milk

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 cup of broccoli florets

Salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan (something with a high lip and able to hold everything, since you’ll be adding a good amount of liquid with the coconut milk), add in the oil, shallots, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar and curry paste. Using a wooden spoon, mix it all together until everything is coated in the paste and the shallots are translucent.

Next, add in the chopped bell peppers and broccoli, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the coconut milk, and let the fish simmer until the florets are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Serve the dish over rice or add rice noodles for a soup-style curry dish.

More in Life

Scrambled Eggs A La Escoffier (Photo by Tressa Dale)
Scrambled eggs the Escoffier way

For the last few months of culinary school, my class was given… Continue reading

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Once bitten

Just keep moving. For some people, it might be a mantra for… Continue reading

Joan Brown Dodd, left, and Doug Dodd pose for a photo at the Homer News on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Hero Unaware’ based on author’s compilation of father’s war correspondence.

Letters home span the entire length of World War II from a Navy corpsman’s perspective.

Mindful ramen. (Photo by Tressa Dale/For the Clarion)
Take guilt off menu with mindful ramen

I do a lot of preaching about healthy eating, but I have… Continue reading

Bonnie Marie Playle (file)
July Musings

July is the seventh month, and is called “Dog Days” because it’s… Continue reading

2007 photo by Clark Fair 
Sometimes called “Murder House” in the years after the killing, this dilapidated Quonset hut was the scene of the crime.
A killing close to home

By Clark Fair For the Peninsula Clarion We all hope we live… Continue reading

The stage for "Grounded" is seen inside of the Kenai Performers’ black box theatre on Monday, March 15 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Presenting Little Mermaid

Kenai Performers youth drama camp takes center stage

This rich Parmesan risotto makes a creamy base for mushrooms and kale. Photographed July 10, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Kale salad? Not so much

A cream risotto makes an indulgent base for the nutritional green

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: The generations … my how they flow by

It has been over 20 years since we had a 1-year-old in the house for any extended period of time.

This orange Julius swaps out the traditional egg whites with sweetened condensed milk, for a tangy and safe summer treat. Photographed July 4, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Adding some orange to the red, white and blue

A quintessentially American drink cools off any Fourth of July celebration.

Nick Varney (courtesy)
Flying fish and lead. Oh my!

Homer can become rather rowdy at times.

Pottery is on display on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, at the Kenai Art Center, which is reopening on Thursday for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘The more we get together’

Kenai Art Center celebrates reopening with work from Potters’ Guild