I’m back in the saddle, the quick and ready-in-under-30-minute, pantry-friendly, dinner-making saddle. You know, the as-few-pots-and-pans and as-much-flavor-as-possible saddle. The use-up-every-ingredient-in-the-fridge saddle. Which is how I landed on this recipe for Pantry-Friendly Thai Red Curry, to use up the little bottle of Thai Red Curry paste that often sits idle yet lasts forever on the condiment shelf of the fridge. That, and to use the last hunk of broccoli and the loyal green bell pepper patiently waiting to be consumed. It’s quick, ready in under 30 minutes, and tastes almost as good as my favorite takeout Thai Red Curry from down the street. Almost.
This recipe for Thai Red Curry is also flexible in that you can use whatever hunks of vegetables are left in your crisper drawer—from cauliflower to green beans to eggplant to bell peppers to carrots. Whatever you do, reach for the can of full-fat coconut milk for the most flavor. A random aside on coconut milk. I like to use full-fat when I’m using an entire can, otherwise, it goes bad pretty fast in the fridge, like less than a week. On the other hand, light coconut milk lasts between 10-14 days in the fridge. For the love of using up every last ingredient.
How to Make Quick Thai Red Curry
To make Thai Red Curry, make the sauce in a wide pot by sautéing sweet onions, garlic, and fresh ginger, too, if you have it. I’m still working through the Kev-sized hand of ginger from an Instacart delivery a month or more ago. Then, add in the coconut milk and Thai Red Curry Paste to make the quick sauce. Next, cut in the chicken using kitchen shears and cook. Now toss in the vegetables and cook just a little more. Everything, outside the rice, cooks in the same pan. And, while one thing cooks, the next thing gets prepped. It’s super-efficient like that.
My favorite Thai restaurant uses lime leaves in their recipe. So I swapped those out for lime zest, which adds a warm citrus flavor without the sharpness of the juice. Though, you’ll add a little bit of that in at the very end to brighten things up. To add extra flavor, grab a couple of sprigs of cilantro and roughly chop, stems and all. And if you have fresh basil, toss that it too. It’s not the same as Thai basil, though, as it has a slightly sweeter flavor.
May dinner be quick and efficient, use up all the last bits of the fridge, and taste like this Pantry-Friendly Thai Red Curry. Amen.
This Quick Pantry-Friendly Thai Red Curry is packed with flavor, comes together in under 30 minutes, made from the bits of your fridge and pantry, and almost as good as takeout. Can you ever beat takeout? Probably not. Use whatever hunks of vegetables you have left in the fridge to pull this weeknight meal off.
Cook the rice. Cook according to package directions, adding the butter and salt.
Make the Thai Red Curry. Dice the onion. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-low. Once shimmery, add in the onion plus a pinch of the salt. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until translucent. Meanwhile, finely mince the garlic and ginger. (If you don’t want to chop the garlic and ginger, mince by way of a zester, used later in the recipe.) Add to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Then add in the coconut milk, Thai Red Curry Paste, honey, zest of a lime, and the remaining salt. Stir together until smooth. Bring to a low simmer.
Using kitchen shears, cut the chicken into thin 2-inch strips (on the thinner side) directly into the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the broccoli and green pepper into smaller hunks. After 5 minutes, add into the pot. Cover and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are just fork-tender, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and squeeze in lime to taste. Adjust salt levels as needed.
Add rice to the bowls. Top with the Thai Red Curry and plenty of sauce. Garnish as desired.
Though I don’t keep Fish Sauce stocked, I really should, you can substitute this for the salt in the recipe for a punchier flavor. If unfamiliar, Fish Sauce is salty and fermented and unlike regular old salt or even soy sauce. You can’t really duplicate the flavor without, well, fish sauce. Note: A little goes a long way.
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I haven’t read all the comments, so sorry if someone has already mentioned this, but is it supposed to say “heat OIL over medium-low?” Can’t wait to try it! I love all your recipes, so I have no doubts about this one!
Thanks for catching this, Sara! Updated.
I keep reading and re-reading. Am I missing more liquid? Is one can of coconut milk the only liquid needed for this soup? The recipe sounds delightful but it just doesn’t sound like enough liquid. Please confirm/help 😉
Hi Aisha! It does seem small but a can of coconut milk it is.
What brand of coconut milk do you recommend?
Hi John! You should see my pantry right now. I’ve got one of each brand, testing them, from taste to the time they last in the fridge. Right now, Field Day is winning for price, flavor, and longevity.
This recipe looks delicious and easy for a weeknight meal. I see fish sauce is mentioned in the comments but I don’t see it in the list of ingredients. Will it be okay without it? Thanks!
Hi Cindy! You could use fish sauce in place of the salt if you have it, otherwise, salt is great. I hope you enjoy it!
How much would you use as a substitute for the salt?
I wasn’t able to find a great reference for a ratio there.
Hi David! You could try soy sauce or fish sauce, but without testing first, I’m not sure how much to tell you as it’s not an even substitute.
Made this tonight and I have no edits. This was outstanding. I will copy this recipe, as is, into my rotation. Well done and thank you Melissa!
I’m so happy to hear you liked this, Angela! Thanks for writing to let me know. You made my night!
Love quick and easy recipes! This may be a game-changer for you, but you can freeze coconut milk without an impact on quality.
Thank you! I’m going to try this. I have a thin stick ice mold. It might be perfect for this!
This recipe sounds like a must make, especially since I have just the right amount of red curry paste sitting in my fridge. A note about fish sauce: the best brand is Red Boat. I tried something else and found it totally disgusting. With the Red Boat sauce, it adds a nice flavor and does not overwhelm one with fishiness.
I hope you enjoy it, Susan! And thank you for the fish sauce recommendation. I think I’m finally going to stock it. Adding Red Boat to the list!