Sunday, January 06, 2008

Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplants)

Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 1
I always thought Thai curries were a rather complicated recipe and always just bought pre-made curry paste. But a while back, I saw a green curry recipe by Cee of Real Thai Recipes and just had to try making it myself. It also gave me a chance to actually use my mortar and pestle.
Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 2
Remember the Thai eggplants from my mam nem (Vietnamese fermented anchovy paste recipe)?
Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 3
And I could also eat from my garden! Namely, my galangal plant.
Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 4
Galangal, although it may look and is related to ginger, tastes very different. Since my plant was only just starting to sprout new shoots, I only cut off a small part of the rhizome.
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Then I started assembling the rest of my ingredients, eager to start pounding away at with my mortar and pestle. I've adapted the original recipe slightly substituting a normal lime rind, instead of magroot, used mam ruoc (Vietnamese shrimp paste), brown sugar instead of palm sugar, and chicken instead of pork. What really made this dish for me though was the fresh lemongrass from my garden. Cee's technique of sauteeing the curry paste in coconut cream really helped bring out the flavor. No way would I go back to pre-made mixes after this. Trust me, it's not even a comparison. Even though I liked it, after seeing my guests' eyes widen with delight at the first spoonful, I knew this recipe was a winner. I think a vegetarian, or more vegetables version, with bamboo shoots, green beans, and baby corn would be a lovely variation. Gotta add that to my list of things to make next.
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Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplants) Adapted from Cee of Real Thai Recipes You'll need: 1 lemongrass stalk, sliced 1 small knob of galangal 3 cloves garlic 1 Thai chili pepper 1 2-inch sliver of lime rind 1 tblsp mam ruoc (Vietnamese shrimp paste) 1 tblsp brown sugar 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 16-oz can coconut milk 1 chicken filet, sliced into 1/2-inch by 2-inch 5 or so Thai eggplants However many Thai basil leaves you wish. I wished a whole lot! :)
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Since you'll want to remove as much as possible of the bitter dark juices from the Thai eggplants, prepare them first. Slice into wedges and let them soak in heavily salted water. Set aside. Slice lemongrass and galangal. Add the lime rind, 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 tblsp brown sugar, 1 tblsp mam ruoc, and 3 cloves garlic into mortar and pestle and grind until a fine paste is formed.
Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 7
As you can see, I'm a wimp and after many minutes of pounding, this was the finest consistency I could come up with. I guess I should have paid more close attention and started with the hard ingredients first before adding in the wet ingredients. Or you can use a food processor to grind the curry paste. :)
Gaeng Khiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant) 8
When your curry paste is done, set aside. Now slice your chicken filet into 1/2 by 2 inch strips. Set aside. Drain the eggplant. Now let's start cooking. Turn your heat on high. Do not shake the can of coconut milk. Starting with one spoonful at a time, scoop out the top heavy cream part and saute it with the curry paste until thoroughly mixed. Then add another spoonful and repeat until all of the coconut cream is used. Keep stirring to make sure it doesn't burn. When all the thick cream has been used, add the chicken and eggplant and stir again. Then add all the rest of the liquid in the can of coconut milk. Add water to the empty can, slosh it around to get every last bit of coconut milk, and pour that into the wok as well.
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Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for at least 15 minutes so the eggplant can soften. Right before you're ready to serve, add as much Thai basil leaves as you'd like and stir to mix the leaves into the curry. Serve spooned over rice, or eat it like a soup. Enjoy! Who else made Thai green curry? Cee of Real Thai Recipe's green curry, which inspired this slightly adapted version. ***** 1 year ago today, Top Baguette - Westminster (Little Saigon).


  1. Looks absolutely fabulous! I, too, have stuck with store-bought curry pastes. Looking forward to trying out your adaptation. And growing galangal sounds like something I'd like to try - can it survive primarily as a potted plant? How about ginger?

  2. Nikki,
    When my galangal has more shoots, I'll gladly cut off the rhizome and share. :) I have Hawaiian ginger that grows like crazy in my old garden. I'm not sure if it's edible though. :(

  3. Thai eggplants - have not seen them before. To me, eggplants are purple. If I had seen the Thai eggplants, I would have thought they were heirloom tomatoes :P

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. u managed to make this look easy!

  5. Somehow I've always thought ginger would do better in a more tropical setting. I've seen many ornamental ones in Hawaii, but haven't tried it here.

  6. Tigerfishy,
    Oooh, there's little purple and white eggplants too. I'll have to see if they still have them at the farmers' market and you can see.

    It was! You should try it.

    I bought a rhizome when I was in Maui and grew it indoors in a pot. It kept sprouting new shoots like crazy so I divided it and planted it outdoors. And it still keeps growing like crazy.

  7. You have a galangal plant! That's really cool! I always have to buy mine and it's a big trek to the Asian grocery store. The curry paste looks nice and fragrant!!

  8. This looks awesome. You make it looks so easy! The curry looks so rich and tasty, I can almost taste it.

  9. W&S,
    I have the plant but it's still rather small and I'm not used to cooking with galangal.

    It was easy! :)


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