This one is a personal favorite. I just love coconut-based sauces, so rich, creamy, and nutty. The rich flavors in this dish though is perfectly balanced-out by the pungency of the green curry.
Green curry is a Thai variation which basically is a coconut milk based dish, given a green tint with the use of green chilis in the flavoring paste. Usually used for a main component of seafood this would work equally well with chicken, or any other light-flavored meat. I prefer to use a red curry paste though for stronger flavored meat such as beef or duck.
This for me is the fun part – making my own curry paste from scratch. This way I have total control of how the flavors play in my final dish. For this I used shallots, ginger, garlic, lemongrass stalks, cilantro, lime, and of course the green chilis. Feel free to alter this. Use more lemongrass for a more citrus hint, more cilantro for a lighter, fresher curry, or more chili for more heat. You may also add in some of the basil leaves at this stage if you wish.
You’ll need to pre-chop your ingredients for this roughly to make processing it easier for the blender. Traditionally done with a mortar and pestle, I don’t see any disadvantage to using a food processor. You may add a little liquid in here to produce a finer paste. I add a bit of coconut cream to mine, which I will later explain. A few tips on this step :
- Use your cilantro all the way to the root. They’ll end up in a paste by the way, plus those roots have lots more flavor than the leaves.
- You may have to peel the outer layers of the lemongrass off as they would not break down in your food processor. You’ll eventually feel rough bits of them in your sauce.
- Use only the stalks of lemongrass. The tops won’t be broken down in the paste either. But don’t discard them yet. You’ll want to save them for later.
Next is a very important step to making your curry – roasting the paste. Roasting it would release all the oils from the aromatic components, deepening their flavors. Here is why I chose to incorporate some coconut cream as I processed my paste. I wanted it to split with the heat in this stage, releasing its natural oil, and consequently roasting my paste. Also, the curds would toast in the process, lending off a distinct nutty essence. You’ll want to keep a constant stir to this to keep the curds from totally burning which would result in a bitter flavor.
Don’t worry if you end up with a few bits sticking to your pan. Just deglaze with some stock, scrape them off, and you’re fine.
I always season my meat with a bit of salt and pepper before it cooks. I just like seasoning every layer of my dish, from the main component to the sauce. After this, arrange the chicken thighs at the bottom of your slow cooker, skin side up, tip in the roasted paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce. I chose bone-in chicken thighs by the way for their relatively dark meat, which is more moist and flavorful. This will work equally well with your favorite cut though.
I’m a huge fan of the Crock-pot brand, so my top reviews are always of their products. For small sized slow cookers, I prefer the SmartPot 4-quart. For medium size, I like the Cook and Carry 6-quart. For the big boys Crock-Pot makes a 7 quart, but if you’re going to go big, go all the way. The Gourmia SlowSmart 8.5-quart is what I recommend. What size cooker do you use in your home?
This is where those lemongrass tops come in. Don’t put that good aroma to waste, bundle them up neatly and tuck it in to the sauce.
I like serving mine with a few chunks of fried aubergine. Some chopped Thai chilis, fried shallots, and fresh Thai Basil add a complexity of flavor to this dish as well.
I don’t think this pairs better with any other side than white rice.