Friday, May 6, 2016

Quick Thai Curry

It has to be spring somewhere, doesn’t it? Things were a lot greener in Maryland, where I spent the past weekend with some of my Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen buddies at the mystery conference Malice Domestic. We had a wonderful time, but to be fair, the weather was kind of lousy, with rain and mist and fog. Then I came home—to more rain and mist and fog. (At least all my flights were on time!)

So I wanted something quick and easy and a little spicy, and I decided on Thai curry. I’ll admit I first met this kind of recipe on the back of a curry jar (with a nudge from my daughter, as I recall), although since then I’ve found a couple of great Thai restaurants not far from my home.

This is a very flexible recipe: I’m giving you the basics, but you can add whatever you have on hand or that sounds appealing to you. We’ve learned to keep a lot of the basic ingredients around, which is easy because they’re usually either found in a can or in a form you need to refrigerate.

One note: in a supermarket, you will most likely find two kinds of paste curry: red and green. I’ll confess I don’t know the subtle differences between them, but you can swap between them. I happened to have the red kind, so that’s what I used.

Quick Thai Curry

Oops--ignore the tomatoes. I was thinking
of an Indian curry recipe, then changed
my mind

1 Tblsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup sliced shallots (you could substitute the same amount of onions, but shallots have a milder flavor)
2 tsp Thai curry paste (or more!)
1 14-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Optional garnishes: fresh basil, fresh lime juice


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and the curry paste and stir until the shallots soften (about 2 minutes).

Add the coconut milk (note: when you open the can it may look kind of like spackle. Just mix it up to combine the solids and liquids) and the fish sauce. 

Add the chicken and stir the mixture until the chicken is just cooked through. (Another note: I’ve often made this recipe with left-over chicken, which works fine. But the uncooked chicken stayed nice and tender.)

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed, plus any spices that suit your fancy.

You can serve this on its own, or over rice or rice noodles. I felt the need for some green/vegetable addition, and we happened to have some fresh pea shoots on hand, so I sprinkled them over the curry. That worked just fine—they added an earthy note and a hint of crunch.

As I said, feel free to improvise. The result is warm and creamy and as spicy as you want to make it—perfect for a cold damp day!

Coming next month! I can't recall if I ever ate Thai food in Philadelphia, but there are Asian vendors at the Reading Terminal Market in Center City, if you're hunting for ingredients (I send my heroine Nell Pratt there whenever possible, including in this book).  They have everything there, including chocolate noses. Just in case you need a few.

You will find Dead End Street available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. LOL! I love those chocolate noses. What a fun gift! I don't use curry enough at all. And I love Indian food. So many curry recipes have a laundry list of ingredients. Thanks for sharing this. I have everything except the fish sauce at home.

  2. I think this is a terrific recipe, Sheila! Thanks. MJ/VA

  3. Coconut milk is a truly magic ingredient.
    I love Thai, but if a recipe has "crazy" ingredients like fresh lemongrass, I give up.