One of my absolute favorite things in the whole wide world is green curry. Up until a few years ago, I was a Panang gal through and through. And then, during a fateful lunch at Tong’s Thai, my cousin introduced me to green curry. Oooooh, baby. It’s spicier than the mild Panang but just as rich. Love at first taste! I’ve tried green curry with chicken at most of the Thai restaurants in San Antonio, but my very favorite version of this dish is at Lemongrass.
The trouble with my green curry addiction? Well, it doesn’t fit in well with my new low-fat lifestyle. It’s made with coconut milk (one of the reasons it’s so deliciously amazing), which has a lot of fat, and I often paired it with a huge helping of fried spring rolls (yum, yum, yum!). That sinful combination was my Friday night takeout splurge and I’ve missed it desperately.
My sweet husband came to my rescue when he decided to make me a low-fat version at home, using lite coconut milk. While Roger’s version isn’t as decadent as the takeout version, it has at least 2/3 less fat than the restaurant variety and it’s a pretty wonderful substitute. A green curry that tastes great and won’t kill me? Sign. Me. Up.
Low-fat Thai Green Curry Chicken
by Roger Pence
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 TBS green curry paste
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cans lite coconut milk
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 fresh carrots – finely diced
- 1 TBS cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
Most full-service grocers in large cities sell curry paste. If you’re lucky enough, though, you can have a ton of fun (and spend an extra thirty bucks or so) shopping in a local mom and pop Asian grocery store. I shopped at Hung Phong Oriental Market (243 Remount St.) for my curry. For those without a large grocery store or mom and pop Asian grocer nearby, you can still shop at Amazon. Amazon sells the same brand, Mae Ploy, that I buy locally. After you open the curry, put the rest in a freezer bag and freeze it to preserve it for a long time.
Slice chicken breasts finely (shoot for no more than 1/4” thick slices). Freezing the chicken breasts for about an hour stiffens them and makes them easier to slice. Refrigerate chicken slices until needed.
Mix the cornstarch and water into a slurry. Set aside.
Put two cans of lite coconut milk, the salt, and the diced carrots in a dutch oven or other similar large pan. Gently bring the coconut milk to just under a boil. While coconut milk isn’t a dairy product, it can break like a dairy product if you get it too hot. Don’t cover the pan, stir often, and pay close attention to the heat. You want the milk hot enough to cook the chicken, but you don’t want the milk to break. The lite coconut milk has substantially less fat than regular coconut milk. There is a tradeoff in creaminess, but not very much.
As the coconut milk starts to heat, stir in the green curry paste. Depending on your tolerance for heat, you might want a little more or a little less of the curry paste. Taste as you add–you can always add more but you can’t take away!
With the coconut milk hot, add the peas and the sliced chicken. Gently stir the chicken and peas into the hot coconut milk. When the chicken turns completely white it’s cooked (test a large piece to ensure its doneness).
Stir a bit of the cornstarch slurry into the coconut milk. You probably won’t need all that you mixed, usually a tablespoon or so of the slurry is enough. You won’t want the coconut milk too thick–the purpose of the cornstarch is to add a little body to the mixture. Shoot for it being just thick enough to cling to the back of a spoon.
Serve your Thai green curry chicken over jasmine rice and garnish with cilantro. For an added kick and a little more texture, garnish with raisins, chopped peanuts, and shredded coconut.