I think we can all agree that good restaurant Thai food is one of life's true gems. I think we can also all agree that it's not immediately obvious how to make it, and many recipes just don't quite bring home that explosive flavor we've come to know and love.

Today, we're going to squash that problem. My sister's boyfriend cooked at a Thai restaurant through high school and thus knows all the tricks. There are perks to befriending a member of the Illuminati!


  • 1-2 cups brown rice
  • 6 carrots
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 pack fresh portabella mushrooms
  • 1 bundle green onions
  • 1 orange/red/yellow bell pepper
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 cans Maesri curry paste
  • 2-4 sticks of lemongrass
  • 6 slices of galangal (a Thai, ginger-like root. But don't substitute with ginger!)
  • 3-5 lime leaves
  • Thai basil
  • 6-8 T fish sauce
  • Optional meat -- chicken breast, shrimp, etc

Step 1: Start the rice.

Always start the rice first. For those unfamiliar, the easiest way to cook rice is to add 2 parts water for every part of rice, bring to a boil on the stove then reduce heat and cover for ~50 minutes.

Alternatively, a rice maker makes the process dead simple, but takes longer than 50 minutes. Rice makers use the same 2-to-1 ratio for water and rice, but make it ever more critical to start the rice first. If you don't, you'll be stuck looking at a finished dinner and a 30 minute timer before your rice is ready. Trust me, I've done it countless times.

Brown Rice

Step 2: Brew the Sauce

In a small to medium sized pot, mix together the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, galangal slices, lemon grass sticks and lime leaves. Turn on medium heat and let simmer for ~20 minutes.

Here's the beginning of the process:
Coconut milk

My preferred variety of Thai curry is Maesri. They have lots of great flavors, most of which don't have MSG (which is why they're high on my list). Other brands of Thai curry may be even more flavorful, but likely at the cost of MSG.

Maesri Thai curry

And here's later on when the curry has been added and it's more cooked down:

Coconut milk

Later on you'll strain out the contents and pour the remaining liquid over your cooking vegetables.

Step 3: Sharpen your Knife

Dice those veggies. Really give'm hell.

Diced vegetables

Next, add them one at a time to a wok with light oil (I prefer coconut oil) and begin cooking with low heat. Thai food is best eaten with still-crunchy vegetables, so you don't want to blast them here.

My preferred order of vegetable adding is carrots, bell peppers, onions, and then mushrooms. Add the green onions at the very, very end to prevent them from completely disintegrating.

Cooking vegetables

Step 4: Almost There...

Pour your strained coconut milk/curry nectar over the vegetables. The end is now in sight!

Finished product

Spoon the finished product over rice in a bowl and... well now you're dangerously close.

Finished product

Step 5: Stuff your face!

In Korean culture, rowdy burps are a signal to the chef that you like the food. I have no reason to believe the same is true of Thailand, but I recommend throwing out all table manners all the same.

No manners

And remember, sharing is caring.

Finished product

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