Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Ode to Mae Ploy Curry Pastes
(with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

It isn’t often that a purchased convenience food shortcut gets me excited but I’ve found Mae Ploy Curry Pastes from Thailand to be so kitchen friendly, flavorful, versatile, easy to use and inexpensive that I must extol their virtues. I’ll share a few recipes too, but first…..

Mae Ploy curry paste, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. You are an incredible time saver in the kitchen. Why just look at your ingredient list! Your Green Curry flavor, for example, contains green chili, lemon grass, garlic, salt, galangal, shrimp paste, kaffir lime peel, coriander seed, pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Even if I could find all those ingredients around here, there is no way I would slice, dice, chop, and pound, them to make my own curry paste when all of these special flavors can be so easily spooned from your charming container.

2. You are all natural. Reread that list of ingredients. There is not a chemical, preservative, or artificial ingredient in the bunch; just real, natural, flavorful ingredients. No added sugars or fats either.

3. You have authentic Thai flavors. You were born in Thailand and I understand that Thai people use you in their everyday cooking. If you’re good enough for the Thai, you’re good enough for me!

4. I love your container. Your colorful label is pleasantly appealing with its collage of exotic vegetables and spices. The curry paste is vacuum-sealed in a thick plastic bag and then placed inside a plastic container with a snap-tight lid, making you easy to use and easy to store.

5. You have a long shelf life. Such an intense flavorful ingredient is used only by the spoonful, so it may take me a while to use up a container. No problem. Unopened, you may be stored in a cupboard for years. Once opened, you last for many months in the refrigerator.

6. You are a great value. At only $2.09 for a 14 ounce container at an Asian grocery store (less than 15 cents an ounce), I cannot find a better flavor bargain anywhere.

7. You are versatile. You come in green, red and yellow curry pastes as well as Panang and Matsaman curry pastes.

8. You inspire me in the kitchen. At first I used you only in classic Thai recipes. But you are so good; I began to experiment with you in my regular everyday cooking. You’ve added exciting Thai flavors to many everyday dishes.

If you love Thai food, like I do, but think it is too complicated to prepare at home, get a container of Mae Ploy curry paste (start with green or red) and try some of these fast and simple recipes. You too will fall in love.

Two of these three recipes are Thai dishes while the third draws its inspiration from several corners of the globe. All of them are very flavorful and quick and easy to prepare, thanks to my new love, Mae Ploy curry paste.

Green Curry Chicken Mince Balls with Peas

If I were Thai, this is the type of dish I imagine I would consider comfort food. And it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Adapted from a traditional Thai recipe
Yield 2 – 3 servings

1/2 lb ground chicken
2 – 3 tsp green curry paste
1 can coconut milk, chilled
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons sugar
1 cup frozen peas
fresh basil leaves, slivered
hot rice or rice noodles

Separate the thick coconut cream from the watery liquid. Put a medium sized pan on the heat, add the coconut cream and cook for 1 minute. Add the green curry paste and stir until mixed. Bring to the boil and simmer for several minutes.

Meanwhile, use a teaspoon to scoop small amounts of the ground chicken and gently roll into soft round balls about the size of grapes. They don’t have to be perfectly round, just roll them enough to hold together

Add the mince balls to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring and tossing several times until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, salt, sugar, peas, and basil and stir it for a few minutes over the heat to warm them through.

Serve with hot rice or rice noodles.

Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry

This is so quick to prepare and tastes just like restaurant fare. For variations, try different vegetables or use boneless chicken instead of shrimp.

Adapted from Gourmet magazine
Serves four.

14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, chilled
2 teaspoons Thai green or red curry paste
1 pound medium shrimp (about 24), shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons naam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 carrots, sliced thin crosswise
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 bag of ready to use fresh spinach
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
cooked rice as an accompaniment

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the thick coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk and in a large heavy skillet cook the cream over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is thickened slightly.

Add the curry paste and cook the mixture, whisking, for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and sauté the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Add the coconut milk and the naam pla and simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute, or until the shrimp are just cooked through. Transfer the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Add the carrots and the bell pepper to the skillet, and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, stirring until each batch is wilted.

Return the shrimp to the skillet, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute, until heated through. Sprinkle the dish with the cilantro and serve it with the rice.

Crunchy Thai Chicken Fingers
Adapted from a recipe by George Duran

Talk about fusion cuisine! The chicken finger concept is American, the flavors Thai, and the crunchy texture Japanese. These crispy oven-fried chicken strips have such zippy flavors from the curry paste no dipping sauce is necessary.

The next day the leftovers, although they lose their crispness, taste even better cold, making this perfect picnic fare.

1 /2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon Thai curry paste (red or green)
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 ½ cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and curry paste until well blended. Thin this with a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get the consistency of heavy cream.

Cut each chicken breast into 6 thick strips. Cutting on the diagonal will make more uniform strips. Drop the strips into the bowl of curry mayonnaise and stir to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to two.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a non-stick baking sheet or cover a regular baking sheet with quick-release foil and grease that.

Pour the bread crumbs onto a plate. One by one, toss the chicken strips in the crumbs to completely cover them. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Bade for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning brown on the bottom. Turn the strips and cook for an additional 15 minutes until golden and cooked through.

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Blogger Temple of Thai said...
You may purchase Mae Ploy at online at: and all the other things you need like fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves etc, to make Thai curry.

Blogger Clea said...
I have always wanted more ways to use mae ploy--thanks! great recipes! I can't wait to try them all.

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