Curry: A Definitive Guide
Thai curry comes in several varieties -- here's what you need to know
Due to the very positive feedback I got on my Pho Fo' Sho article, I figured I'd do the same type of explanatory and insightful article with (drumroll please) Thai curry. I know I can't be the only one who has wondered what the real difference is between the numerous yellow, red, green, Panang, and Masaman curries offered at local Thai eateries. Most curries begin as a paste which is then mixed with coconut milk or coconut water and combined with a number of different vegetables, herbs, and meats. Let's explore the subtle differences between these eastern favorites:
Green Curry: The main ingredients of this most popular curry paste are fresh green chilies (making it arguably the hottest of the curries), cilantro, kaffir lime rinds, lemongrass, garlic, and spices. This variety is best with chicken, beef, or fish.
Red Curry: Usually best with duck, pork, or beef, this curry is made with dried red chilies, making it less spicy than the green variety. The red curry tends to be more savory where the green has sweeter notes.
Yellow Curry: This rendition is the most simlar to Indian curries. Made with turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and other herbs, it is most often used in stews or with chicken and is not as often combined with coconut milk as the green and red varieties. The dish also usually incorporates onions and potatoes.
Masaman Curry: This curry, which is of Muslim origin, is usually prepared with beef or lamb, since the religion of Islam prohibits the consumption of pork. The ingredients of this specialty curry include dried red chilis, lemongrass, coriander, cloves, and shrimp paste. The dish itself can incorporate cinnamon and even peanuts, and is usually mild and on the sweeter side.
Panang Curry: Last but not least, the Panang curry is very rich and sweet, incorporating peanuts into the paste itself. It is also most often ordered extremely spicy (making it very popular with yours truly) and usually prepared with less coconut milk, served with beef.
Of course, most Thai eateries will allow and offer any combination of meat and vegetables with any of their curries. Try pork with green curry or Panang with fish. You really can't go wrong.