I am a big fan of Thai green curry. It is one of those dishes that is refreshing, comforting, and challenging all at the same time. I like to think of it as a summery hug, accompanied by a not-so-gentle kick in the side.
I probably don’t need to sell the idea of a vegan Thai green curry to you though, because you’re already here searching for one. But if you are still a little unsure about this incredible dish then let me take you through some interesting stuff about Thai green curry.
What is Thai green curry?
A Thai green curry gets its name from the colour of the dish. It is unmistakably green!
Much like other Thai curries, green curry starts with a paste. This particular paste is traditionally made by pounding together green chillies (hence the green colour), shallots, palm sugar, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, coriander leaves, kafir lime leaves, and spices like white peppercorn and cumin. It it also quite common for it to be made using shrimp paste.
This is then mixed in with coconut milk to create a curry sauce.
The exact ingredients served with a Thai green curry will differ. You may find animal-based meats, but also plenty of vegetables like Thai round aubergine and pea aubergines.
You may have noticed that I mentioned shrimp paste being an ingredient in many Thai green curry pastes. So, is this not often a vegan-friendly dish? Read on to find out.
Is Thai green curry vegan-friendly?
Unfortunately, Thai curry is typically not suitable for vegans. Especially in Thailand. But it can easily be made suitable for vegans.
Whilst on the surface that delicious smelling Thai curry you’ve walked past on the streets of Chiang Mai may look vegan-friendly, you will probably find that they’ve used fish sauce or shrimp paste either in the curry paste, or somewhere along the cooking process.
But if you weren’t at first aware of this you’ll soon find out when you come to eat it. The presence of fish is really easy to taste. Oh, and the pong!
That doesn’t mean you won’t find a vegan Thai curry in Thailand, or outside of Thailand. Their dishes are actually very easy to veganise. Many just require you to leave out the fish sauce or shrimp paste and substitute the meat for a vegan alternative, like tofu or fake meat.
So ultimately, most Thai curries can be made vegan. This is what we have done here with our vegan Thai green curry.
Getting vegan Thai green curry paste right
The paste is where most of the flavour of your Thai green curry comes from, so it is important that you get it right. That is why I make mine from scratch. The flavours that you get from using fresh ingredients that have been bashed up or blended together just before cooking will convince you to keep doing the same too.
That being said, I understand that this dish requires a bit more time to create the vegan Thai green curry paste, but also some equipment that you may just not have (like a mortar & pestle, or food processor).
So if you simply HAVE to buy in a paste I urge you to buy this one from Ice Kitchen. It is frozen and has no horrible hidden ingredients.
Why try my vegan Thai green curry?
There are many vegan Thai green curry recipes you can try, but each will be unique and will therefore taste different. This is simply my take on this incredible dish, which was developed using my experience in Asia alongside my desire to deliver simplicity.
My experience in Asia
I have drawn upon my own experiences from Asia, making delicious pastes in a pestle and mortar whilst sitting on the floor, to create this vegan Thai green curry recipe. I used to love going to the local market and picking up random bunches of herbs and pairing them with different local ingredients. During this time I was fortunate to learn from many different locals from all across Asia.
If you would like to make this vegan Thai green curry as authentic as possible, bash up the ingredients by hand with a pestle and mortar. Use palm sugar to help pulverise the ingredients and to balance out any bitterness or sharpness.
But if you’d rather opt for the simple approach then you could whack all the ingredients into a food processor, or blender, and whip up the paste in minutes.
Either method tastes great! And whenever I make it the smells and taste bring me back to my time in Asia.
Making your own Thai green curry from scratch can actually be really quite simple, especially if you opt to blend it in a machine. I recommend making a large batch of the paste and keeping it in ice cube trays in your freezer.
It is thanks to it being made from scratch and its simple ingredients that you can actually adapt this recipe to your liking.
I have found that 3-4 small green chillies work for people with a lower spice tolerance and 6 is enough to give you a good challenge. Although, this can depend on the chillies that you buy.
Vegan Thai green curry ingredients
I love balancing out this vegan Thai green curry paste with earthy mushrooms and crisped up tofu to bring in some texture (oh, and protein too of course).
The addition of chargrilled broccoli helps to add a crunch to the dish and compliments the herbs in the green curry paste.
You could also sub the tofu for some tempeh, or even fake meat. Have some fun with it and try experimenting with different vegetables, or think sustainably and use up whatever sorry looking veg you have in the back of the fridge that you are one day away from throwing out. Please don’t throw it out, it will be thankful to you for putting it inside such a glorious dish!
Anyway, it’s now time to tantalise those tastebuds with this refreshingly zingy vegan Thai green curry recipe.
Vegan Thai green curry recipe
The curry paste
- 2 Banana shallots - peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 stalks Lemongrass
- 2 stems Lime leaf
- 3 cloves Garlic - peel
- 1 thumb-sized piece Fresh ginger - peel and roughly chopped
- 4 Thai green chillies - use 6 if you like it spicy!
- 1 handful Fresh coriander
- 1 handful Fresh Thai basil
- 1 piece Fresh turmeric - peeled & roughly chopped. Or sub for 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1 tsp White pepper
- 2 tbsp Vegan fish sauce -
- 1 tbsp Maple syrup
- 2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
- 2 tins Coconut milk - full fat
- 4 portions Brown basmati rice - cooked to packet instructions
- 1 wedge Lime - sliced into 4
The curry paste
- Put all of the curry paste ingredients into the blender or food processor. Blitz until all of the ingredients have broken down into little bits and it starts to form a paste.
- For a more authentic result, use a mortar and pestle instead and bash all of the ingredients together.
- Set the paste to one side for a short while
Prep the curry ingredients
- Wipe clean your mushrooms. Pull apart the oyster mushrooms so they are in shreds and slice the king oyster mushrooms lengthways.
- Clean your tenderstem broccoli and slice any thick ones in half lengthways.
- Drain and cut your tofu into cubes.
- Get your frying pan on a medium high heat with 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil. Once it is hot add in your tofu and fry off for about 10 minutes, making sure to turn the tofu pieces often.
- Whilst your tofu is cooking, heat up your 1 tbsp oil in your large saucepan. Add in your paste and fry off on a medium to high heat for a few minutes. Make sure to stir regularly so it doesn't stick or burn.
- Gradually stir in your coconut milk so that the paste mixes in well. Once fully mixed bring up the heat so that it starts to boil and then turn the heat down low so it stays simmering whilst you return to your veg cookery.
- Once the tofu is done, set it aside and put your broccoli into the pan, you may want to add in a drizzle more oil. Keep the heat high and stir often as you chargrill the broccoli for about 5 minutes.
- Once the broccoli has cooked, it should still have a good bite to it, put this aside with the tofu and now add in a little more of the oil with the mushrooms to the pan. Fry these off on a high heat also and stir often. These will cook off in just a few minutes. They should get a little smaller and they'll be nice and squidgy, but charred on the outside. Set these aside with the other ingredients.
- Now add all of the veg and tofu into the simmering green curry and heat through for about 1 minute.
- Serve up the curry alongside some cooked brown rice, or jasmine rice.