Thai Red Curry is green curry’s milder, less pungent sister. Albeit, this girl packs some heat, because Thai red chilis are spicer than the green variety found in green curry!
Red curry paste gets its color – and heat – from dried thai red chilis. However, because there’s no easy way to remove them of their peels – which is imperative for a lectin-limited diet – I chose to use fresh red Thai chilis, which still have the same flavor and heat level, just with the ability to be transformed into a lectin-free food.
In order to remove them of their skin and seeds, and to do that, we need to roast them! This can be done by placing peppers directly over the flame of a gas stove, hot charcoals of an outdoor grill, or on the top rack of an oven set to high broil. Rotate the peppers a few times through out the process then toss them into an airtight container to steam for 10 minutes. After which point, the skin will be dying to come off and the seeds will be as easy to squeeze out as toothpaste. Learn the detailed process here.
Removing the dried chilis does take away some of the potent red pigment of this paste, which is why roasted red bell pepper is added. And, without the bell pepper, the paste is too concentrated in spiciness, making its spice levels unbearably high without enough flavor to balance it out; red pepper milds out the paste, which allows a decent amount to be used.
Like green curry, the base of this curry comes from a paste that includes:
- White peppercorns
- Thai red chilis
- Red bell pepper, for color
Thai Red Curry has a creamy body, but thin, soup-like consistency. Because it’s loaded with fresh vegetables and creamy coconut sauce, it’s a perfect dish for vegetarians…
At least it seems like that would be the case.
See, most Thai curry pastes include shrimp paste & the sauce itself includes fish sauce. While fish sauce can be removed for vegan customers at restaurants, shrimp paste cannot, as its built directly into the paste, making it a deceitful dish for vegans.
Instead of dealing with the trouble of talking to the guy who speaks 50 English words at your local authentic Thai restaurant, let’s take certainty into our own hands, shall we?
It’s imperative to find a plant-based substitution is needed to replace fish sauce and shrimp paste, both of which are key ingredients… why don’t we try vegan fish sauce? Yes, of course, the name is misleading because vegan fish sauce doesn’t contain any fish. However, a sauce with “fishy” flavor can be made by boiling seaweed with water until heavily concentrated, then mixing that with an unbearable amount of salt (fish sauce is hella salty), a little bit of rice wine vinegar, and a touch of monk fruit sweetener. The combination of these few items creates a sauce that’s on par with fish sauce in saltiness, fishiness, sweetness, and acidity; just like fish sauce, it should only be used in very small amounts.
Once again, like it’s sister green curry, there’s no specific vegetables to be used for the dish, however, these are our personal favorites:
- Lotus root
I know what you’re thinking… what in the who is lotus root? Well, if you’ve ate out at a few Southeastern Asian restaurants, you’ve probably encountered one of these guys before; lotus root is a crunchy, watery, russet potato-like vegetable. It can usually be found in a can or in a package containing a salt-water brine in the refrigerated section of an Asian market. On the off chance that you’re lucky enough to get your hands on fresh lotus root, buy it up! Just be sure to peel, cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick, and boil your lotus root for 45 minutes before adding to the dish.
Serve your spicy, lightly sweet, veggie-packed curry with resistant starch Thai jasmine rice, fresh lime wedges, and a few sprigs of cilantro. For a grain-free option, serve with miracle rice or cauliflower rice!
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
All the best,
Ryan & Kim
Thai Red Curry
An authentic vegan & lectin-limited rendition of spicy, aromatic, soul-satisfying Red Curry Paste and Sauce.
Red Curry Paste:
- 1/2 c shallots. finely chopped
- 3 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
- 8 fresh red Thai chilis, roasted, de-skinned, and de-seeded
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted, de-skinned, and de-seeded
- 2 tbsp cilantro stems, finely chopped (leaves removed)
- 1 1/2 tbsp chopped lemongrass, outer leaves and top 2/3 removed
- 1 tbsp finely chopped galangal
- 1 kaffir lime, zested (about 1/2 tbsp)
- 2 1/2 tbsp white peppercorns, whole
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds, whole
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds, whole
- 1/2 tsp salt
Red Curry Sauce w/ Mixed Vegetables:
- 4-5 tbsp red curry paste (recipe above)
- 2 c full-fat coconut milk
- 1 c mushroom broth
- 1/4 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
- 4-6 asparagus spears, cut into quarters with woody part removed
- 12 1/4-in slices of lotus root, cut in half*
- 5 medium mushrooms of choice, cut into thirds (shiitake works well)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp golden monk fruit sweetener*
- Resistant Starch Thai Jasmine rice
- Lime Wedges (optional)
- Cilantro sprigs or Thai Basil chiifonade (optional)
- To make curry paste: In a small pan over medium-high heat, toast together coriander, cumin, and white peppercorns – stirring every 10-15 seconds – until they’re fragrant and lightly browned. 2-3 minutes.
- Evacuate spices to a mortar and pestle and grind until they reach a relatively fine consistency. They won’t become as fine as pre-ground spices, but that’s okay. Mix in salt.
- Combine spices and all of the curry paste ingredients in a blender carafe or food processor and blitz on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, blend in 1-2 tbsp of full-fat coconut milk.
- Use curry paste immediately or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks & freezer for up to 6 months.
- To Make Curry Sauce w/ Vegetables: Place a large high-walled sauté pan or wide soup pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in coconut oil, then, add in 4-5 tablespoons of red curry paste, depending on your spice tolerance. Remember, you can always add more later, but you can’t take any out.
- Cook curry paste for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heavily fragrant. Mix in coconut milk, mushroom broth, cauliflower florets, and lotus root and bring to a steady simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Toss in the rest of the vegetables and cook for 8 minutes more, stirring a few times. After which time, mix in monk fruit sweetener and vegan fish sauce.
- Taste a vegetable for tender-ness; they should be crispy, but not unpleasantly close to raw. Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust if needed, adding more curry paste for spiciness, vegan fish sauce for saltiness, and monkfruit for sweetness.
- Serve alongside resistant starch Thai Jasmine rice, a fresh sprig of cilantro or Thai basil chiffonade, and a couple of wedges of lime. Best enjoyed while fresh! Although, leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to two days. To reheat, bring to a boil in a saucepan over high heat, stirring often.
*Remember, if using fresh lotus root, be sure to peel, cut, and boil it for 45 minutes before adding it to the curry. If using lotus root from a can or plastic package containing a brine, simply add it in at the same time as the cauliflower. *Can’t find golden monkfruit sweetener? Replace with an equal amount of powdered xylitol, erythritol, chicory, or stevia based sweetener. *One last thing: please don’t use light coconut milk. The fat in coconut milk is needed to form the desirable body of this sauce. If you choose light coconut milk, you’ll have water-y curry flavored soup instead of authentic green curry sauce, which probably isn’t what you want.