Kaeng Pa (aka Jungle Curry)

This makes enough for 3-4 portions, depending on how hungry you are. I divided the ingredients for the curry and cooked it in two large pans to prevent overcrowding. For the curry paste I decided to use an almost identical version of Kenji’s. This made around triple the amount of paste I needed for the curry, so I refrigerated and tried in other dishes over the course of the next week. 

Ingredients:
For the curry paste:

  • 1 Cilantro bunch, stems only, chopped (30g)
  • 6 Dried makrut lime leaves
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced (40g)
  • 3 Bird’s eye chilis, roughly chopped
  • 1” Piece of galangal, thinly sliced
  • 2 Shallots, chopped (60g)
  • 8 Garlic clove, chopped (40g)
  • 6 Dried guagillo chili’s, seeded and thinly sliced

For the curry

  • 2 Tbsp neutral flavoured oil (I prefer peanut)
  • 400g Chicken breast, sliced in 1/4 “ thick pieces
  • 300g Green beans, or chinese long beans
  • 200g Whole corn kernals, or baby corn, sliced in half length wise
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • 12 or so small thai basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Bean sprouts, for garnish
  • 1 Lime, in wedges, for garnish

Process:

  1. Soak the dried chilis in boiled water, until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Take the rest of the paste ingredients and begin mashing them using a mortar and pestle. When the chilis are soft, add them to the mortar and continue to grind everything until a thick, uniform paste has formed. This could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on how good your technique is.
  2. Heat a pan over high heat with the oil, add ½ cup of curry paste (or more if you prefer a more intense, spicy flavour.) Cook it until fragrant and slightly darkened, which should take about a minute or two.
  3. Add the chicken, making sure not to crowd the pan, and cook  it on both sides. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through, just on the outside, as it will continue to cook in the liquid. Then add the beans and the corn, stirring everything together. Cook until the veggies begin to brown and blister. Add the chicken stock. If you notice the chicken or veggies are burning to the bottom of the pan, add the stock sooner. Cook until the veggies are tender and chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar and mix together. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove it from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve it over your favourite noodles or rice. Garnish it with more basil, lime wedges and bean sprouts.

You can find the blog post for this recipe here.