If you are new to the Thai food scene, navigating a menu in a restaurant can be overwhelming. There are dozens of different dishes, all which incorporate a variety of ingredients. What's the difference between red, yellow, and green curries? What on earth are panang curry and massaman curry?
The most common curry dishes in Thai restaurants are red curries, yellow curries, and green curries. These dishes are named for the color of the curry paste that is used to create them. Their differences extend far beyond their color, however. Each has distinct flavors that make each dish especially unique.
Red curry is often made with dried red chilies. In some areas, it is also called spicy curry. Red curry paste often includes garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fish paste, and shallots. This paste is combined with coconut milk, which creates the creamy curry sauce that is then combined with a protein and served over rice or noodles. Red curry works well with a variety of proteins, including chicken, tofu, and even eggplant.
Yellow curry paste gains most of its color from turmeric. Its yellow color is also enhanced by cumin and yellow mustard seeds. Additionally, yellow curry dishes may include nutmeg, fish stock, and lime. Kaffir leaves, or lime leaves, are especially popular in yellow curry pastes. Like red curry dishes, yellow curry paste is combined with coconut milk to create the sauce. Chicken and tofu are excellent proteins to pair with yellow curry.
Green curry is flavored with green chilies. Often, green curry dishes are called "sweet green curry," but this is quite the misnomer, as green curry is actually quite spicy. It is called sweet because of its pale green color. Green curry paste usually includes coriander, cumin, galangal (a type of ginger), lemongrass, shrimp paste, lime, and shallots.
Massaman curry is usually milder than other Thai dishes, because it incorporates more dry spices. Massaman curry features peanuts, red chilies, galangal, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, fish sauce, garlic, and brown sugar. When combined with coconut milk, these flavors create a dish that is perfectly paired with chicken. For those who steer clear of spicy food, massaman curry is an excellent choice.
Panang curry is mild, like massaman curry. It also features dry ingredients, such as galangal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried red chilies, peppercorns, garlic, and lemongrass. Panang curry is most often combined with beef and kaffir lime leaves.
Sanamluang Thai Cuisine is popular for its authentic Thai dishes, including the various noodle plates. The restaurant is now located at 710 South Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont, CA. You can learn more about Sanamluang at http://www.sanamluangclaremont.com.