The green curry paste that got me seeing red!

a proper green curry paste recipe

I was just innocently channel-surfing, minding my own business the other day when something green got me all fuming and seeing red. It was on Ming Tsai’s show, something about Thai green curry paste. The problem is, that paste is just as Thai as Yul Brynner huffing and hopping his way around the room in a simian imitation of King Mongkut. I don’t have anything against Ming Tsai, mind you. I found him entertaining enough when I saw him in Aspen last year. I even think the format of his show made a lot of sense: teach one master recipe and how to adapt it into multiple recipes involving different ingredients. That’s how most of us cook anyway. But I must take exception of this one recipe.

The master recipe I am talking about is a ‘Thai’ green curry paste. It was such an abomination that it ruined the otherwise innocent recipes that follow. It even entangled the cutesy Aaron Sanchez of Centrico into making a hybrid Latino-Thai version of a Mole. I am serious.

The recipe I found so distasteful has – amongst its many ingredients -€“ a substantial amount of mint, basil, and cilantro leafs. A whole cup each, which is – let me put it gracefully – YUCK.

I don’t know where this weird trend really began, but the first time I encountered a green curry paste recipe like this was a recipe
by Jean-Georges. He spent quite a bit of time in Thailand, right? You’d think he knew how to make a proper curry paste. Well, I’m sure he knows how to make very many proper things, but Thai green curry paste is not one of them. His recipe called for cupfuls of cilantro leafs. Cups of them! Do you know what kind of curry that paste would make? A Dr.Brenner’s special green soap curry, that’s what! And, as though JGV’s recipe isn’t bad enough, Ming Tsai took the concept and ran with it, adding not just the offensive cilantro leafs but also the incongruous basil and mint. And he is hardly alone.

Now before you jump on me for being an insufferable purist, I must say that I do not mind people taking a classic recipe and putting their own spin on it, or substituting hard to find ingredients for something closer to hand, or even skipping a few altogether. I do that myself when I cook, all the time. But it must be within reason. Otherwise, it’s like Jack Nicholson ordering the chicken sandwich in Five Easy Pieces: hold the mayo, hold the lettuce, hold the tomatoes, and hold the chicken, just bring me the bread. Frankly, I hardly care if people make up whatever paste they fancy, but just do me a favor and don’t call it chicken sandwich Thai green curry paste when it isn’t.

No, I’m not going to argue that there is one true way to make green curry paste. I’m sure there are as many versions of the recipe as there are grandmothers and kitchen-mothers* in Thailand. But there’s a master recipe that serves as the backbone of the true green curry, that which made it authentically Gang Kiew-wan or Thai Green Curry. And, let me tell you, there aint no cilantro leafs, let alone mint and basil.

The basic ingredients that are always present in Thai curry paste of all forms – green, red, yellow, Massaman, Panang, etc – are garlic, shallots, cilantro roots (or stems, but never leafs), lemongrass, galangal, Kaffir lime zest, and Kapi shrimp paste. Other ingredients – chillies, dried spices, and more aromatics like Krachai (Wild Ginger) or Kamin (fresh Turmeric roots) – and the combination and proportion of them are specific to particular types of curry or meat.

ingredients for green curry paste

Green curry or Gang Kiew-wan is the only kind of curry paste that uses green, fresh chillies. In Thailand, we use a combination of Prik Kee-noo (the killer ‘Bird’s Eye’ variety) or Prik Chee-fah (milder and larger.) Both Prik kee-noo and Prik Chee-fah come in a variety of colors, but only green ones are used for green curry paste, for obvious reasons.

The dry and fresh aromatics used in the master recipe also vary depending on which kind of protein the paste is intended for. At my grandfather’s house, my aunt Chawiwan and our old Kitchen-mother Pah Biab always put a bit of Krachai, Wild Ginger, into green curry paste intended for catfish or fish dumplings. The Krachai is said to prevent excessive fishiness in the final dish. For meat, Gang Kiew-wan Neua, they would add a bit more cumin seeds and less coriandar seeds, and vice versa for chicken.

It’s all confusing, I supposed, for these fancy chefs, whose big brains are occupied with far more important recipes like….oh, I don’t know, Ratatouille maybe? Whatever.

Just in case you need help figuring out which green curry recipe is good to use, let me give you two clues.

If it calls for cilantro leafs – not roots or stems, but leafs – drop it.
If it says you can substitute ginger for galangal, run the other way and don’t look back!

Galangal and ginger may look alike, but they don’t taste anything like each other at all. Saying that you can substitute ginger for galangal is like saying – oh, yeah, if you didn’t have any Italain flat leaf parsley, go ahead and use cilantro instead.

If you want to try a proper Thai curry paste, I have a recipe right here. If you didn’t believe me, Khun Kasma, the famous author and Thai cookery teacher, has a recipe over at her site Thai Food and Travel. If you have the exhaustive Thai Food by David Thompson, he’s got a great recipe in there as well. Also, when I went home to Thailand last year, I took a series of photographs of my kitchen-mother* making Gang Kiew-wan Pla-grai, green curry with fish dumplings. You can check it out here.

*A household servant in charge of the cooking and the kitchen is referred to as Mae-krua - roughly translated as kitchen-mother.

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  • http://www.preserveless.blogspot.com Ales

    nice! I love thai green curry paste but have so far relied on the store-bought ones. In Italy half of the ingredients are impossible to find unless you live in a big city like Rome or Milan, but I will be soon back to England and looking forward to trying your recipes. Does it freeze well? cheers

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com The TriniGourmet

    good for you! i always rub feathers the wrong way when i espouse the idea that 3rd world cuisines do have master templates/building blocks or as you call it templates for their recipes, and these need to be understood and respected in order to know which parts are flexible and which are not in order to bear a national title. For some reason people don’t challenge this concept when it comes to anything with the title Italian, French etc. but once the cuisine is from the Third World all bets are off and they do what they like.. aiaiaia…. It is bloggers like us who will help to ensure that our cuisines get the respect and understanding they deserve ;)

  • http://www.handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com B

    In my touristy cooking class in thailand I remember being told very specifically to keep the cilantro leaves far far away from my mortar and pestle (oh, how I now appreciate food processers) – nice to call people on it!
    Of course there is room for variation in the cooking world, especially when cooking with cuisines from other parts of the world, there are certain sacred aspects to any recipe. Thanks for helping to understand what it necessary for curry pastes!!
    B
    http://www.handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com

  • http://afaustianbargain.blogspot.com faustianbargain

    it is for this reason, i am glad that not many people who are interested in cooking south indian food and (re)’interpreting’ them. let them cook naan and curries, my sambhars and aviyals are safe..:)
    altho’ i think people should eat less curry and more aviyal. seriously…curries..pffftt!

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com casey

    I LOVE it when Pim is really ticked off about culinary aberrations.

  • http://www.gastronomical3.wordpress.com Maria Bonn

    I’m inspired to make my own, but I’m also thinking about those days when I want to throw together a quick curry and the paste ingredients just aren’t around. Any suggestions for a commercial version to keep on hand?

  • Diane

    This is INSANE! I almost always cook my curry pastes from scratch, and I have no idea what they are thinking with this. It sounds like some kind of bad chutney instead of a curry paste. My pet peeve too is the ginger-galangal substitution. It’s so common to see that suggested. Yeah, they look sort of alike. So do cherries and cherry tomatoes, but no one suggests making that swap. Lazy cooking.
    ps Faustian – I cook lots of South Indian food and love it. Much preferred to Northern Indian standards IMO…

  • Mallika

    Maria, I find that the Lobo brand Thai pastes/curries/spices/soup packets are some of the best around. I always have my parents in Thailand send me a new box of them every few months. Living in a back-of-the-woods place in Spain does not bode well for my beloved Thai food, hehe.
    I’ve seen the Lobo brand stuff at Amazon, by the way.

  • Mallika

    PS Not sure Amazon is the best place to buy them, as the price is kind of high (although I don’t know what the price is at other places). :/ Usually they’re priced at 20-40 baht (about 0.50-1.00 US dollar) in Thailand. They’re selling for 7-8 USD at Amazon, so it’s probably better to look elsewhere.

  • Diane

    This is INSANE! I almost always cook my curry pastes from scratch, and I have no idea what they are thinking with this. It sounds like some kind of bad chutney instead of a curry paste. My pet peeve too is the ginger-galangal substitution. It’s so common to see that suggested. Yeah, they look sort of alike. So do cherries and cherry tomatoes, but no one suggests making that swap. Lazy cooking.
    ps Faustian – I cook lots of South Indian food and love it. Much preferred to Northern Indian standards IMO…

  • Diane

    PS – Maria – Pim may have her own opinion about commercial pastes, but I sometimes buy the Mae Ploy brand. They come in plastic tubs and are readily available in many Asian markets. Make sure you keep the plastic around them well-sealed after opening to preserve freshness. I usually have the red curry paste in my fridge. It’s nowhere near as good as from scratch, but as a substitution, it’s not half bad either. I like to throw it in other stuff to jazz it up.
    But it’s so much fun to make pastes from scratch – if you have a decent Thai grocery anywhere nearby give it a whirl sometime.

  • Sheila

    I do really love your site, but I found it funny that you used the phrasing “household servant in charge of the cooking…”- sounds like this person is a professional cook or what everyone now likes to call a personal chef. Maybe its just me, but servant sounds kind of degrading- I like kitchen mother!

  • http://singleguychef.blogspot.com Single Guy Chef

    Pim, your post made me green with envy. ;-) Loved it! Thanks for setting things straight.

  • bach

    Thank you for this! I swear, any time I see anybody on American TV making anything that came from anywhere remotely close to Indochina, they’re always throwing in a handful of at least two of cilantro, basil, and mint. We have other aromatics!

  • Vicki

    Uh…I think you meant Dr. BRONNER, not Dr Brenner’s special green soap.

  • Matthew

    I agree with you that Thai Green Curry paste should be as you describe. But the second that its just a green curry paste ala JGV or someone else then its their recipe and not the Thai one. Its all in being precise.
    Green curry paste is a descriptive reference its a green paste which will be the base for a curry. Thai Green Curry Paste would be expected to contain certain ingredients as you suggest. Its the same with every recipe on the planet. Sadly too many people would use the incorrect reference – Just look at some of the pitiful descriptions of items on a menu at every restaurant you see.
    Poppadoms are in the process of being defined as to how they should be made and prepared to ensure authenticity… maybe the core ingredients for Thai Green Curry Paste need the same formal definition.
    It does still make me sad though. I can quite understand your point.

  • http://eatingasia.typepad.com Robyn

    Well put. Down with meddling with basic, building-block recipes! One thing though – I’ve watched lots of curry pastes being made in northern Thailand and only one included coriander roots, none kaffir lime zest. Perhaps that’s a central Thai influence?

  • http://www.poonamphatak.blogspot.com/ Poonam

    I love the idea of making this paste at home. But generaly have some store bought paste in the fridge because its too tidious to make it from scratch for just two after a long day! I will try it sometime though just to see the difference!

  • http://burntlumpia.typepad.com Burnt Lumpia

    Ha! I saw that same episode of Simply Ming and wondered how authentic his recipe was. Thanks for setting the record straight. btw, I’ve been a long time lurker here and I’m finally posting a comment.

  • http://www.whatsfordinner.us Gina

    I buy green Thai curry paste in jar, and when I saw Yul Brynner in a revival show of “The King and I” when I was ten, he was my first crush ever. I probably don’t deserve to even read your blog…

  • Catherine M.

    Preach on, sister! :-)

  • PhilD

    I blame Jamie Oliver. In his first book & TV series back in ’99 he did a quick green curry with “…some more fresh herbs, trying to get it as fragrant as possible”.
    So lots of basil and coriander a none of that time consuming “cracking” of the coconut cream.
    Fast and furious cooking for the modern age.

  • http://afaustianbargain.blogspot.com faustianbargain

    diane..cheers!..:)
    i am glad you like south indian food! it ticks me off when people compare south indian to north indian food and decide that the former is disappointing. and then, one of them will try to make sambhar like a dhal and kootu like a curry. the results, not surprisingly, are tragic.
    it is like comparing thai food to middle eastern food or something like that. everything from the ingredients to the method to the serving tradition is different. my food isnt ‘exotic’ or spice heavy..but it relies on tamarind, green chillies and black pepper.
    i do love some north indian dishes tho’.. but i consider it a different cuisine entirely…and wouldnt dream of applying south indian cooking philosophy when i make them..

  • http://www.chubbypanda.com Chubbypanda

    Well, as much as I love Ming Tsai, what he does is primarily Western fushion cooking, meaning he incorporates Asian ingredients into his French cooking techniques. We can’t expect him to make authentic Thai Green Curry Paste. We must accept that he’ll be making his version of it when we watch his show, and that his version will have little to do with the real thing.
    I like Ming Tsai’s food because it tastes good. But, I don’t make the mistake of thinking that he’s doing anything other than freestyling it when he cooks; making up his own cuisine and flavors. That’s why Martin Yan and Ken Hom are my go-to guys for Chinese cooking. Similarly, Ming Tsai shouldn’t be anyone’s go-to guy for and authentic Asian cuisine.

  • pum

    Well… I still like watching Ming Tsai shows, since he is only one Asian guy among others cooking shows out there.
    I saw him putting black pepper in Papaya salad once and I just have to sigh quietly myself.
    It is hard to stock those ingredients for making curry paste from scratch even here in New York. These things are supposed to come from back yard garden when you live in Thailand. Like picking Basil, parsley or Chive…
    For the curry paste, I found that Nittaya Brand is the best. It is famous curry brand, even in Bangkok. It comes in frozen packet. Thai grocery store on Mosco street carries them. It tastes closer to fresh made curry paste in my opinion. No preservative added but you need to keep it in the freezer though. The tub one (Mae Sri and Lobo I think) is an imported brand.

  • http://chezpim.typepad.com Pim

    Ales,
    I don’t freeze my curry paste, since it lasts pretty much forever in the fridge anyway – as long as you wrapped it well.
    The TriGourmet,
    I totally agree.
    B,
    That’s a good class then. What did you learn?
    Ms Bargain,
    I see your point. Pardon my ignorance but, what’s aviyal?
    casey,
    Glad you love it. ;-)
    Maria,
    There are two brands I generally use, Mae Sri and Mae Ploy. There’s another really good brand that I often bring back from Thailand called Namprik Nitaya. I haven’t seen it on the West Coast but I know that you can get them from some Thai shops in Manhattan.
    Diane,
    Insane indeed. Glad you share my pet peeve. Mae Ploy is a nice brand.
    Mallika,
    I’ve never tried anything by that brand at all. Perhaps next time I need to get a quick paste I’d give it a try. Thanks for the rec.
    Sheila,
    It’s cultural difference at play here I think. In Thailand, people who work for you as domestics are called, Khon Rub-chai, which literally means servants. The Mae Krua, kitchen mothers, are also considered Khon Rub-chai. Hence the translation. I was, however, always taught to be respectful to those who worked for us. I never called our Mae Krua by her name alone, but always with the honorific Auntie before the name.
    Single Guy Chef,
    You’re welcome.
    bach,
    So true.
    Vicki,
    Oops, yes, that.
    Matthew,
    As I said, I don’t have a bone with anyone cooking whatever the heck they please, but when they use a classic name there is a tradition that must be respected. In this case it wasn’t.
    Robyn,
    That could easily be. Being a Central Plain girl myself I quite often think first of our regional cuisine as the national cuisine. I have much to learn yet!
    Poonam,
    Store-bought pastes are lifesavers sometimes. I have them too.
    Burnt Lumpia,
    Welcome out from lurkerdom.
    Gina,
    I use store-bought stuff too. I’m not so keen on that movie though.
    Catherine,
    Amen!
    PhilD,
    Jamie Oliver came after JGV, I think. Still awful though.
    Chubbypanda,
    That Marin Yan, don’t get me started on him. I don’t have a problem with Ming at all. I think he’s a good chef and his food at times look quite interesting. He just shouldn’t be using a classic recipe’s name when it is not.
    pum,
    Ok, you got me going on Martin Yan. Yes, I think Ming is nice. He is competent, and he has an engaging and credible presence, unlike that offensive wind-up monkey Martin Yan.

  • http://greenolivetree.blogspot.com kel @ Green Olive Tree

    Hey i love that image of your paste in mortar thing. Awesome!
    Found this thai grocery near my place in Amsterdam and they sell these tiny tubs of homemade paste. Tempted to try their tom yum, but I’ve been going back for the green curry paste. They use the killer prik kee-noo..
    Sometimes I just crave for extra spicy food. With my boyfriend, I’ve to make a thinned down version for all the spicy dishes I made. Sigh!

  • ray in Mexican Colony of LA

    Khun Pim
    Thank you so much for the authentication of the Thai Curry Pastes and I agree with most of the constructive comments mentioned. But alas this is ultimately the price and downside of internationalizing and fusioning cuisines, big marketing excelling over substance and a drift away from basics as you rightly point out.
    And today someone flys to Bangkok for a day and is instantly an expert in Thai cuisine more concerned with videoing than taking the time to adequately exploring the history and authenticity of the cuisine !!!
    Look at how BIG MONEY spoils everything it touches continally, sports of all types, and in the last 10-15 years a drift into the food world with celebrity chefs, pot and pan endorsements being more important than cooking great basic food !!!
    I think the drift took a life unto itself with celestial ego of Wolfgang Puck …then Emeril…then etc etc etc. ….making his hundreds of millions fueled by the Hollywood types who wouldnt know a great receipe if it hit them over the head…..they only know how to promote everything, from porn, wrestling to the food channel !!!
    Enjoy and good dining !!!

  • http://www.davidlebovitz.com david

    I don’t suppose this would be a good time to tell you about the recipe I saw for Pad Thai that had ketchup in it…

  • http://nookandpantry.blogspot.com/ Amy

    Totally agree! There’s wiggle room with recipes but it’s not that roomy to use a bucketful of cilantro leaves! I will use your recipe when I make curry paste. I remember seeing Cook’s Illustrated do a green curry paste and they actually used cilantro stems, no leaves, since the stems were easier to find than the root. I’m glad they got that right! :)

  • Debbie

    For anyone here like me from the UK, I’ve found a website which has both the Lobo and Nittaya brands. It’s called thai4uk. Haven’t tried them yet but intend to take the recommendations from others here.

  • http://handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com N

    Pim—
    Aviyal sometimes appears as “Malabar coconut stew” on menus in South Indian restaurants, although that description always makes me twitch. It’s a stew that’s particularly popular in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The base is yogurt (preferably homemade) and a paste made of ground coconut, ginger, green chilies, and a few other spices. Aviyal’s supposed to function as a catch-all for vegetables one has on hand—in a typical Keralite or Tamil household, that would be produce like carrots, plantains, white pumpkin, green mango, taro/sweet potatoes. Pretty tasty.
    I actually meant to comment on how my own touristy cooking class in Thailand taught me the same lesson about cilantro leaves. The instructor also had a funny story about how the Thai word for a fruit (rambutan, I think it was) was similar to the Thai word for idiot, so ambitious tourists would often ask for, say, “2 kilos of your freshest idiot” at the market. Haw.

  • Tony Chapman

    pim i’m reminded of an early jamie oliver cooking show episode (perhaps the one referred to above) which was recorded tellingly after he left the BBC. Jamie was cooking Thai green chicken curry and he said to his guests: “Have you ever been to Thailand? (N0 was the response.) Well this is what the Taiwanese eat”! Magic really.
    Tony, Melbourne Australia

  • http://monkey-foodanddesign.blogspot.com monkey

    Sounds like Ming was making pesto. My good friend and his Mom are from Thailand, so I’ve been lucky enough to eat really good Thai food. Things like basil and cilantro leaves are most always served raw on the side as an accompaniment.

  • Annapurna

    Someone once gave me a Ming Tsai cookbook–there isn’t a single “authentic” recipe in there. It’s so obsenely fusion, it is now somewhere under my couch, waiting for the next English language booksale in Paris.

  • boogles

    I always substitute hard-to-find ingredients for those close at hand.

  • Karen

    I have a Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger cookbook. It was bought at a sale on heavy discount and I’ve regretted it since I’ve had the time to read it recently
    He can’t even do Chinese fried rice right – adds steps that no self respecting Chinaman would – like the way that he stirs in the egg. He makes an omelette before?! Wtf – the egg! The shock and horror of it all.
    You can screw with the Terroir and the ingredients, or the technique, but not both. Reading his cook books, I just get angrier and angrier. Every successive page is a litany of further sins.
    “Sambal olek” with everything.
    Inauthentic Green curry.
    Some Japanese sauce.
    It’s a real disrespect for a terroir. For culinary traditions. Don’t calls something a derivative of a hallowed tradition – like “green curry” or “sambal olek” when it’s obviously the worst form of 3rd rate colonialism, calling your version, the false, bastardised, westernised version by it’s true and good name. Like “Green curry”.
    So yes, Pim, you are not alone out there in loathing Ming Tsai’s white guts. He’s a banana person through and through – look Chinese on the outside but he’s really white outside.

  • Mandy

    This reminds me of an amusing encounter between a Turkish family and a Russian family at a pot luck I went to. I think it was the Turks who had brought a pasta salad (which I recall containing macaroni, ham, and peas), which they called “russian salad”. The Russians said “huh? We call that ‘american salad’”, and there was much discussion as to who actually ate what and the authenticity of other dishes. (I suppose you had to be there…)
    People are always going to reinterpret more exotic dishes to their particular tastes (and local ingredients, techniques, etc.). Then there’s the marketing factor of exotic food on a restaurant menu (to appeal to those who don’t know better). It makes things interesting/frustrating for travelers and expats.
    I’m not one to make comments on the authenticity of dishes, though, as I’m a true CA girl (home of the fusion movement) and usually modify the heck out of recipes for convenience and the sake of dabbling (though the most I’ve ever claimed for origin was “Thai-ish curry” and the very popular “enchilada-y things”… it’s all quite tasty, but I suppose it’s good I don’t record these abominations)
    Do you think “A Taste of Thai” (the most available brand at the grocery here in Seattle) makes remotely authetic curry (and other products), or do they fall into the list of the blasphemers?

  • Rowena

    Thank you, Pim. Green curry is one of my favourite Thai food indulgences. Definitely will try your recipe one of these days!
    When it comes to seeing overly “creative” versions of the real thing, I agree with your sentiments (totally!). I often roll my eyes when diluted peanut butter with a dash of hot sauce being passed off as “satay sauce” or “nonya peanut sauce”. Yuck.

  • jason

    I live in australia, and was just surfing around, found this site and read all the comments. i make and sell curry pastes and sauces that are cooked out and seasoned appropriately, ready to be mixed with coconut cream and cooked.
    Have been using them in a Thai restaurant for 10 years, so they are good.
    Website is phatfoods.com.au . It is an online shop and we could post to U.S. not sure about cost, but could work it out.
    Check it out if anyone has time.
    cheers.
    Jason

  • jason

    Sorry, forgot to put www in front. Should read – http://www.phatfoods.com.au

  • http://www.templeofthai.com/ kapeng

    What an amusing way to pass the time reading all the responses to Pim’s totally on comments about Thai curry paste! Just coming from the Epicurious website, every recipe calls for galangal instead of ginger assuring you it is the same taste! Indeed you just have to roll your eyes like Rowena and Pum. You can get Nittaya brand curry paste now online (I believe it is the only place online):http://www.templeofthai.com/food/fresh_curry_paste/

  • Fernabelle

    Ugggh! Mint and cilantro leaves in green curry sounds as nasty as ketchup in pad thai! And I dare anyone who thinks galangal and ginger are interchangable to fish a big chunk of galangal out of their next pot of tom yum soup and chew on it for awhile! To me, it tastes like menthol! =)
    Anyway, thanks so much Pim, for sharing your green curry recipe (and your recipes for nam prik pao, tom yum goong, pad thai, panang nuea, and fish dumplings, all of which I will be trying). You are sooooo generous and so much fun to read!!!

  • Scarlet

    I’ve tried so many “authentic” Thai recipes and only a few were really great. I’m going to try yours tonight. But I think it’s important to say that I watched Ming Tsai and he never said you can use ginger in place of galangal. Also, he may have suggested cilantro leaves in order to make sure it held a green color, being that he’s going for appearance and often green curries aren’t that green when you get the final product. Given all of the variety of recipes from one Thai person to another of things like green curry and pad thai (that I’ve found), and also that Ming has to have an original recipe in order to put his name on it for copyright reasons, I don’t see why his version would make anyone see red! It reminds me of when Diana Kennedy published her “definitive” book on Mexican cooking yet she’d only consulted one cook in the Yucatan, totally ignoring the other regional differences and the individual cooks’ variations. Yet everyone in America thought only her books were authentic. The truth is, individuals have very different tastes. We have lots of Thai restaurants where I live and they’re all quite different. Best regards,

  • http://kitchentigress.blogspot.com/ KT

    Hi Pim, I was wondering if I can substitute Thai shrimp paste and palm sugar with Malaysian versions? Thanks v much.

  • http://thaicuisinetimeline.com kanit

    Did you know that Thai/ Siamese Green Curry Paste first appeared in the early 1900s in a memorial book. Unfortunately, recipes for Thai Green Curry were printed in Thai many decades later (thaicuisinetimeline.com)

  • kanit

    Kang is transwcription than Gang or Gaseng.
    Let us examine the word “แกง”. Vocally, Gang may sound better than Kang but according to the RIPRTS and RIRTGST [RI = Royal Institute of Thailand], ‘ก’ as the first consonant should be romanized as ‘k’ and this is how we get the ‘K’ in Kang (แกง).
    • Proponents of “K” over “G” may say that there is a soft “g” at times in English. When ‘g’ is followed by some vowels (‘e’ as in ‘germ’ and ‘i’ as in ‘ginger’). Bearing this in mind, if ‘g’ is used for ‘ก’ for various dishes and cuisines, the soft ‘g’ sound may cause confusion. Unlike ‘G’, ‘K’ does not have this limitation. Famous writers please take note!
    dr.kanit from thaigastronomy@yahoo.com

  • Thaigastronomy

    Corrected Reply…Kang is a better transcription than Gang or Gaeng.
    Let us examine the word “แกง”. Vocally, Gang may sound better than Kang but according to the RIPRTS and RIRTGST [RI = Royal Institute of Thailand], ‘ก’ as the first consonant should be romanized as ‘k’ and this is how we get the ‘K’ in Kang (แกง).
    • Proponents of “K” over “G” may say that there is a soft “g” at times in English. When ‘g’ is followed by some vowels (‘e’ as in ‘germ’ and ‘i’ as in ‘ginger’). Bearing this in mind, if ‘g’ is used for ‘ก’ for various dishes and cuisines, the soft ‘g’ sound may cause confusion. Unlike ‘G’, ‘K’ does not have this limitation. Famous writers please take note!
    dr.kanit from thaigastronomy@yahoo.com

  • Perthlol

    What a load of ranting and raving – and over green curry, of all things? It’s hardly standard in Thailand, after all. Just like the masalas in India and the rempahs in Malaysia, everyone has their own version! Every now and then, the world is inspired by something from a particular part of the planet. The beauty of cooking is just that – inspiration. If you can’t understand that and if you believe food (God forbid) can only be good if it involves rules and regulations, then do us all a favour and stop venting because I’d hate to think of all the people out there you are actually UNinspiring by your negativity.

  • urbanchowboy

    You are completely justified to argue passionately against the use of ginger and cilantro leaves, in the same way any classically trained French chef would passionately argue against the use of margarine and skim milk as a substitute for butter and cream. Comments to the effect that you are being too rigid miss the point entirely.

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  • Mia

    This post made me laugh lol. One of my friend said that she made Kaprow at home and used Italian basil. I said “Noooo~ you have to use Thai Basil. They taste very different.” I was so shocked that she couldn’t really taste the difference. It’s the same with Ginger and Galangal. They taste VERY different. I completely agree with you that you can’t substitute those. I think if you are going to make big changes like that to a Thai Green Curry, then it’s not really a Thai Green curry anymore. It’s like saying you’re making a galangal soup with no galangal.

    Also, this IS your blog. I think you can rant all you want. It’s better to be yourself than watch what you say all the time. That would just be pretentious. It’s not like you complain about things all the time lol. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and the recipes are wonderful.

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  • maria

    i was looking for a green curry recipe and darn is hard. Especially since I have a taste for it, i’m picky, and i’m going to the best thai place in town to enjoy it. I see people are saying you’re overreacting with your rant but damn i got so mad when I saw the recipes I found online ask for cilantro in the preparation of the curry. I know I taste NO CILANTRO in my fav curry!! (and i really HATE cilantro!).