(Hotter Than It Looks) Thai Curry Base

(Hotter Than It Looks) Thai Curry Base

On the night this recipe was created, we had shrimp, shrooms, and snow peas with which to make dinner, and Hubbalicious said he wanted something spicy, to which I mused aloud how I've noticed that people who tend to say, "Oh, that's spicy!" in response to eating something hot usually don't have a high tolerance for capsaicin heat.

To which he responded, "OK. Make something HOT."

So I did. :P

WARNING: For most people, this recipe will be unbearably HOT. You can easily turn down the heat by reducing the chilies. If you've a mild palate, start out with one fresh chili - maybe even a milder one like jalapeno - seeded and deveined and 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes.

I was originally going to write this up as a complete recipe including the proteins and veg (which I do outline for you further down this post), but I realized this morning that this makes a good and adaptable base to which you can add whatever proteins and veg you fancy.

Add 4 or 5 cups of unsalted chicken, seafood or veg stock, increase the salt and lime to taste, and you'll have a delicious soup!



  1. 1/4 yellow onion, finely minced
  2. 1/4 cup very finely chopped cilantro and/or basil (This is a great use for all those stems!)
  3. 2 Tablespoons finely minced ginger
  4. 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
  5. 3 serrano chilies, finely minced (Thai bird chilies are ideal and Chiles de arbol would also work well here.)
  6. 1 Tablespoon crushed red chili flakes (like the kind you use on pizza and pasta)
  7. the zest of 1 lime (or 3 kaffir lime leaves finely julienned)
  8. 2 Tablespoons oil
  9. 1-2 teaspoons curry powder, depending on how strong a curry flavor you prefer
  10. 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  11. 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  12. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  13. 1 teaspoon sugar
  14. 1 can coconut milk (they're usually somewhere between 13 and 15 ounces)


  1. Add Photo

    In a preheated medium high pan, saute the aromatics - onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, chili flakes, and lime zest - in the 2 Tablespoons of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder, stir to incorporate, and let the curry bloom for a minute or so.

  2. Add Photo

    Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to incorporate thoroughly, turn the heat up to high, and bring the curry to an active boil for a minute.

  3. Add Photo

    Add in your protein and veg and bring the curry back up to a boil for a minute or so, turn the heat down to medium high, and let it simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until your protein is cooked through. Bite sized pieces of seafood will take no time at all (3 to 5 minutes), white meat chicken a little bit longer (5 to 7 minutes), and dark meat yet longer (7 to 10 minutes).

  4. Add Photo

    Give it a stir, adjust the seasoning if needed - a little more salt or fish sauce if you want it saltier, a little more lime juice if you like extra tang, maybe a pinch more of sugar to round out all the flavors - simmer another minute or two, and that's it! Serve with steamed rice.

  5. Add Photo

    For the curry in this pic I used: 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 31/40 size), 1/2 pound button or crimini mushrooms, 1/2 pound snow peas, 1/2 red bell pepper cut into 1/4-inch strips, and an 8 oz can (the short one) of bamboo shoots, drained. But you can of course use whatever veg you like and have handy, following the general measurement guidelines of 1 pound of protein and 1 pound of veg for 4 servings.

  6. Add Photo

    Enjoy! :)

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