There are some good-quality Thai green curry pastes on the market. They give a Thai curry a good base and the chilli heat it needs, especially when you haven't got an oriental grocery nearby. Try to buy an authentic one, which will probably be scribed in Thai. Look in your local supermarket's "special" range, and in particular for one by Charmaine Solomon, an Australian authority on Asian cuisine. You can add various extra ingredients to a Thai curry, such as pea aubergines - which are literally tiny, pea-sized aubergines - pumpkin etc. It's also important not to miss out any of the spices as each adds its own character to the dish.
2tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1kg chicken thigh meat, skinned, boned and halved if large
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 sticks lemon grass, trimmed and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
30g galangal or root ginger, scraped and finely chopped
1tbsp Thai green curry paste
4 lime leaves
1.5litres chicken stock
150ml coconut milk
for the fresh green paste
4 lime leaves
A few sprigs of coriander
A few sprigs of Thai basil
1 stick lemon grass, trimmed
Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, season the chicken thighs, place them in the pan, and cook on a high heat for about 5-6 minutes. Add the onions, lemon grass, garlic, and galangal and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Add the curry paste, lime leaves, and chicken stock, bring to the boil, season, and simmer for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the ingredients for the fresh green paste with a tablespoon or so of water until smooth.
Add the coconut milk and fresh green paste to the curry, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Serve with jasmin or basmati rice.
Pinot gris (New Zealand)
Verdelho (Western Australia)
Chenin blanc (South Africa)
Gewürztraminer (Alsace - France/New World)
Verdelho from Western Australia (Bleasdale is excellent) is one interesting choice. Another is a chenin blanc from the Cape where the grapes have been a trifle late. And third, which surely heads the candidate list, is New Zealand pinot gris. What the coconut milk, basil, and galangal do to all these grapes is enhance their grapiness and very subtle spiciness; in return, the wine emphasises the dish's ingredients, especially the lemon grass and chilli. None of this can be achieved with beer, which simply wipes the palate clean. It adds nothing to the dish.
Gewürztraminer, if it is young and frisky, is fine, and New World examples are certainly preferable to many from Alsace, unless you can get one from the co-op at Turckheim. This provides a satiny-textured, genteel tanginess without excess spice; perfect with this dish.