Khanh Nguyen’s red curry of chicken and Thai eggplant
Prep 40 mins
Cook 25 mins
This curry recipe comes from Vietnamese-Australian chef Khanh Nguyen, of Melbourne restaurant Sunda. Nguyen is well known for his complex curry pastes and layering of South East Asian flavours. The ingredients list might seem long, but this is a recipe that gives twice – the curry paste makes double the amount you’ll need. The remainder can be frozen for up to 1 month, making a super quick and easy meal the second time around. A little extra work today means you’ll save time tomorrow.
600g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into 4cm pieces
2 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
20g caster sugar
20ml vegetable oil
400g coconut milk
6 Thai eggplant, cut into quarters
½ bunch snake beans, cut into batons
Lime juice and Thai basil leaves, to serve
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
RED CURRY PASTE
80ml vegetable oil
½ red onion
40g tamarind paste
25g desiccated coconut
15g each ginger and galangal, coarsely chopped
15g fresh turmeric, peeled and coarsely chopped
7 large dried chillies, soaked in 80ml warm water for 30 minutes
6 long red chillies, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
5 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves
3 coriander stalks, roots scrubbed, leaves reserved (optional) to serve
1 tbsp dark palm sugar, coarsely grated
½ tsp each coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds, dry-roasted and ground (see note)
1. Combine chicken, fish sauce and sugar in a container and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
2. For curry paste, combine ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Divide the paste into two portions and refrigerate or freeze one portion for another use.
3. Heat remaining vegetable oil in a saucepan or wok until smoking, add chicken and fry, turning once, until golden brown (1-2 minutes). Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add curry paste to pan and stir continuously until aromatic (4-6 minutes). Return chicken to pan and stir to coat. Add coconut milk and 100ml water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked (7-8 minutes). Taste for seasoning and add extra fish sauce or palm sugar, if required. Add eggplant and simmer until tender (5 minutes). Add beans and simmer until barely tender (4 minutes) – they should retain a slight crunch.
4. To serve, stir in lime juice to taste, then transfer to serving bowls and scatter with Thai basil. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
N O T E
To dry-roast spices, heat in a small dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often. Khanh Nguyen also serves the curry with fresh coriander, thinly sliced makrut (kaffir) lime leaves and fried shallots, which you can add if you like.
Recipe by Khanh Nguyen and image by Eatable.