Despite living and working in Chiang Mai for a month, the first time I had curry fried rice was in St. Paul, Minnesota. Usually the words “fried rice” conjure up an image of savory rice that’s been cooked over super high heat where you get seared bits of egg, veggies, and protein mixed in with fluffy tender rice but Thai-style curry fried rice is a duck of a different feather cuz the heat here comes from the spicy, aromatic green curry while the veggies and other fillings have been soaking up all the delicious flavors of the coconut curry sauce. Since it’s still Dungeness crab season here in the rainy Pacific NW, I’ve made this with crab but you’ll often see it with chicken or shrimp as well. Because the green curry is so flavorful with hints of sweetness from the brown sugar and bursts of tang from the lime, this would also highlight your favorite veggies as well. If you can find a green curry paste made without shrimp paste, although it’s usually the smallest ingredient percentage-wise it’s always present in classic curry paste preparations, this would taste great as a vegetarian dish with soy sauce substituting for the fish sauce.
Green, Red, is it Christmas?
1) Ever wondered what the difference is between red and green curry? Basically, the biggest difference is the type of chilies, red curry uses red chilies while green curry uses green and yes, there are yellow chilies in yellow curry. Green curry also tends to contain other aromatics like cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, and basil while red curry is usually just the red chilies +/- chili powder.
2) What if I don’t want to cry in my rice bowl? I’ve noticed that once I’ve figured out how fiery my current batch of curry paste is (spiciness can vary, even within the same brand and flavor, because chilies are a seasonal product and will differ based on different growing conditions like how hot or dry the growing season was, cross-pollination with milder species,…) if you want to lower the heat, it doesn’t take much. If it’s really spicy, like you’re sweating and drooling while your tongue feels like it’s going to explode, dropping the amount of curry paste in half will make it go from painfully spicy to mild. Strangely non-intuitive. If you want a “medium” level of spice drop the amount only by 25% so 2 tablespoons of curry paste would drop to 1 1/2 tablespoons.
3) Only 1/2 cup of coconut milk? What am I going to do with the rest of the can? Coconut milk freezes beautifully cuz it contains so much fat so I like to freeze it in zip bags in pre-measured volumes (ie 1/2 or 1 cup measures). This way I can pop out whatever I need if I’m making curry or just giving my rice a little decadent coconut flavor 🙂
1/2 c light coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp green curry paste (I like Mae Ploy brand)
2 tbsp fish sauce (I prefer Three Crabs brand)
1 tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 c water
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned and in 2-inch lengths
1 bunch broccolini, stems and leaves trimmed
4-oz canned bamboo shoots, drained, rinsed and julienned
5 c steamed white rice
6 oz cooked crab meat (I used lump Dungeness crab from the fishmonger)
In a wok or large ~3-4 quart pot, heat coconut milk over med-hi heat till the coconut oil floats to the surface ~1 minute. Add curry paste and simmer till aromatic, ~1-2 minutes. Stir in fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, basil, water, bell pepper, broccolini, and bamboo shoots. Simmer till sauce is reduced in half and broccolini is crisp tender, ~10-2 minutes. Stir in steamed rice, coating evenly with curry sauce. Serve in bowls and sprinkle crab over the rice. Makes 4 servings.
**This estimate doesn’t include the rice. Still can’t get the nutrition calculator to treat steamed rice appropriately, when looked up separately, 1 c of steamed rice is 205-240 calories depending on which reference you use but when added to a recipe it thinks 1 c contains 675 calories?? If you add 1 1/4 c rice per serving, the calorie count should be 423 calories with ~79 g carbohydrates.