When I don’t understand a particular dish, I make it. How else would I figure out the flavors of something like Thai yellow curry? Like many cooks, I have mostly relied on tubs or cans of Thai curry paste. The yellow curry is one that I’ve avoided after trying it just once years ago. It was bland and insignificant seeming.
Last week, after reading an October 2013 Saveur magazine story on Thai curry by chef/restaurateur Andy Ricker, I decided to give Thai yellow curry another chance. I’d purchased a tub of fudgy Thai shrimp paste months earlier and the other ingredients were within reach. It wasn’t the Trachang brand that Ricker called for but I wasn’t about to drive 30 minutes to an Asian market for one ingredient.
Neither did I have the Tiparos brand of fish sauce that he prefers. I used what I had, which was MegaChef brown label, formulated for Thai kitchens. (Other premium fish sauces like Red Boat or IHA would work too.) If you don’t have Thai shrimp paste (kapi), use a smaller quantity of mam tom (fine shrimp sauce), a stronger cousin. Lemongrass, galangal, ginger, and curry powder were all sold at my local health food markets. What the heck, I gave it a try.