What Is Thai Green Curry?
An authentic Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Kiew Wan) is typically sweet, savoury, meaty and blow your head off spicy. Chicken or meat and vegetables sit in a rich, spicy coconut broth.
Served up with jasmine rice it is probably the most popular Thai dish in Western restaurants and takeaways.
My vegan version uses shiitake mushrooms for that chew and dials down the heat a bit while keeping all the flavour and aromatics of a good green curry.
You can make this recipe even simpler by using shop bought vegan green curry paste, I won’t judge you!
However, if you want to take control of the heat, reduce the sugar and salt content and let the fresh herbs and spices shine though, it’s really easy to make your own!
How To Make Vegan Thai Green Curry Paste
There are huge variety of commercially produced Thai Green Curry pastes and sauces readily available in high street stores and supermarkets.
If you decide to go down this route BEWARE, many of them contain fish sauce so do check the label!
While I am happy to sometimes make things simple, it is inevitable that a jar bought paste loses the zing of a freshly made sauce.
This vegan green curry paste only takes moments to make once you have gathered together the ingredients and I urge you to give it a go!
So, what’s in Green Curry Paste?
- Authentic Thai Green Curry paste usually contains galangal which is closely related to ginger and turmeric and looks very similar. It tastes similar to ginger but is a little spicier and is not as readily available. I’ve used fresh root ginger in its place here but feel free to use galangal if you can find it!
- Fish Sauce – obviously I don’t use this one! I’ve substituted nori flakes for that taste of the sea. Clearspring make a nori seaweed sprinkle which is really useful but, if you can’t find them, a sheet of nori broken up in the food processor does the job! You could also use a teaspoonful of white miso instead.
- Garlic – There are 4 large cloves crushed into that little pot. If you are a garlic lover feel free to add some more or, if you’re not so keen, take a couple out.
- Shallots – this sauce calls for the delicate, sweet flavour of fresh shallots rather than the heft of an onion. If you can’t get them replace them with half a red onion.
- Green Chillies – If you want more heat keep the seeds in and, if you are a fan of blistering heat, feel free to add one of the smaller Thai green chillies for a real punch. My husband doesn’t like crying in pain into his dinner so I dial the heat back for him!
- Lemongrass – I used fresh lemongrass here. Peel the outer layer off, trim the ends and chop the softer core. If you can’t get fresh use paste instead but it usually contains sugar and salt so you may need to adjust your flavourings a bit.
- Coriander – This curry paste uses ground coriander seeds and a big handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks.
- Cumin – Freshly ground. Oh how I love cumin, it is the workhorse spice in my kitchen. It pops up in curries, soups and chillies with its gentle, distinctive flavour!
- Lime Juice – Along with the ginger/galangal and lemongrass a little bit of lime juice adds zesty zing to this delicious curry!
- Salt – Just a little bit. The beauty of making your own paste is that you are in control of the salt content. Salt is added to the final dish so there is no need to go overboard here.
What Goes In A Vegan Green Curry?
Traditional Thai Green Curry combines meat and veg with a creamy sauce made with fresh, zesty, fiery curry paste, full fat coconut milk and stock.
Vegan Thai Green Curry combines that wonderful sauce with fresh green vegetables along with something to replace the heft of meat.
My version uses chewy shiitake mushrooms with their strong earthy flavour in place of the meat.
You could also try tofu, dry fried first and then added to the sauce or fried chewy aubergines instead.
All three absorb the flavours of this sauce beautifully.
I’ve used sugar snap peas and tenderstem broccoli for my greenery and I often add some spinach or kale at the end of cooking.
You could use peas, mange tout, calabrese broccoli florets or any other green veg with a bit of crunch.
Roasted butternut squash adds a bit of colour and natural sweetness to this green curry so I don’t add any sugar to the sauce.
Butternut is a lovely companion for coconut and sweet potato makes a good alternative.
How To Make Vegan Thai Green Curry
1. Make The Green Curry Paste
This green curry starts with the paste. Gather all the ingredients together.
Peel and roughly chop the garlic, ginger, shallots and lemongrass.
Roughly chop the chillis (remove seeds first for a milder curry) and the fresh coriander.
Add to a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse to a paste.
I like mine to have some texture rather than being pureed but, because you’re cooking from scratch, whizz it up how you like it!
If you don’t have a processor chop everything finely with a sharp knife or grind it in a pestle and mortar.
2. Prepare The Vegetables
Roast peeled and chopped squash in a little oil for 30 – 40 minutes until browning and fork soft.
Steam the green vegetables until tender.
Run under cold water to cool.
You can cook the veg in the sauce instead but they will lose some of their green vibrancy.
3. Make The Sauce
Start with sliced shiitake mushrooms and spring onions sizzling away in a little oil.
Add the green curry paste and fry, stirring to stop it sticking, for about 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, stock, lime leaves and stock.
Bring it up to a simmer and bubble away for about 10 minutes until slightly reduced.
Stir in the cooked vegetables, simmer for 3 minutes until everything is piping hot.
What To Serve With A Green Curry
I served my green curry up with a bowl of plain basmati rice.
You can also serve it with jasmine rice, saffron rice, brown rice or over noodles.
Pour the curry over the rice or serve it on the side.
This curry is very saucy and is best served in bowls or on plates with deep lips to stop any spillage!
Storing and Freezing
Vegan Thai Green Curry will store well, covered, in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat until piping hot before eating.
If you want to freeze your curry leave it to cool completely.
Transfer it to a zip lock bag or suitable container and freeze for up to three months.
Defrost thoroughly before cooking and heat through until piping hot.
You Might Also Like
If you’re feeling spicy you might also like my:
Vegan Thai Green Curry
For The Thai Green Curry Paste
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped.
- 2 shallots peeled and roughly chopped.
- 2 sticks fresh lemongrass trimmed, tough outer layer peeled off, inner core roughly chopped.
- 1/2 bunch fresh coriander you need a great big handful!
- 2-4 green chillies roughly chopped, seeds removed for less heat if required.
- 3 cm piece of fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped.
- 1 tsp ground cumin seed
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp nori flakes or 1 sheet nori, crumbled.
- 1 tsp lime juice
For The Veg
- 300 g butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100 g sugar snap peas
- 100 g tenderstem broccoli
- 1 bunch spring onions
- 100 g shiitake mushrooms sliced, stalks removed
For The Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 400 ml can full fat coconut milk
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- 1/2 lime - juiced
Cook The Vegetables
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F
- Toss the prepared squash in 1 tbsp oil and roast for 30 - 40 minutes until browning and fork soft.
- Steam the green vegetables until just cooked. Cool under cold running water.
To Make The Vegan Thai Green Curry Paste
- Peel and roughly chop the garlic, ginger, shallots and lemongrass.
- Roughly chop the chillis (remove seeds first for a milder curry) and the fresh coriander.
- Add to a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse to a paste.
Make The Sauce
- Fry the sliced shiitake mushrooms and spring onions in 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the curry paste and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
- Add the coconut milk and stock along with the lime leaves and lime juice.
- Bring to a simmer and bubble away for 10 minutes until reduced slightly.
- Stir the steamed vegetables and roast squash, simmer for 3 minutes until everything is piping hot.
- Serve with cooked rice.