Kua Kling (Southern Thai-Style Red Curry)
Whereas larb is bright and acidic — light on its feet — this simple adaptation of a traditional Southern Thai dry red curry, is grounding and spicy. It owes much of its flavor to red curry paste, turmeric and fresh chile that have been toasted until they shake awake. For scorching heat (a curry like this is typically brutally hot), add more chile. As the chicken — though it could be ground pork, sliced beef or chicken, or mushrooms — cooks, its fat renders and the fired-up curry paste adheres. Season it with brown sugar and fish sauce, and serve with rice, cabbage, herbs, avocado, cucumber and-or a crisp fried egg.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
- ¼cup Thai red curry paste (ideally one with makrut lime, lemongrass and shrimp paste)
- 1teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2Thai or serrano chiles, thinly sliced, or to taste
- 1pound ground chicken
- ½teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 2teaspoons fish sauce
- ¼teaspoon freshly grated lime zest, or 10 makrut lime leaves, deveined and thinly sliced
- Rice, sliced cabbage, chopped herbs, sliced avocado, chopped cucumber and fried egg, for serving
Step 1In a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, warm the oil and toast the curry paste, turmeric and chiles (if using) until extremely fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and lower heat as needed to prevent sticking.
Step 2Add the chicken and cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon. Stir to coat the meat in the curry paste and to prevent sticking, and cook until the chicken is opaque, 7 to 10 minutes. If everything is sticking, don’t panic — just add a little water or neutral oil.
Step 3Stir in the brown sugar, fish sauce and lime zest, and cook just until the liquid’s been absorbed, about 1 minute. Season to taste with more brown sugar and fish sauce. (The chicken should be spicy first, salty second.) Serve at once with desired toppings.