It surprises people when I say that Red Thai curries are milder than green. We associate the colour red with heat.
The key to some kind of authenticity in cooking is in getting the right ingredients. For this I ordered the correct chillies in advance: not bird's eye but long dried chillies Prik Chee Fah. For Indian curries I use Kashmiri chillies ordered online. For Mexican dishes I use jalapenos, chipotles, poblanos ect. You can't just approximate it by using any old red or green chillies they sell in the supermarket. It's worth making an effort.
The only sub I made in this recipe is ginger for galangal as I was too lazy to go up to Wing Yips (my local Asian store) to buy it.
It helps that I grow my own chillies, always have frozen ginger, turmeric root and lemon grass in the freezer. I hope to have kaffir limes soon, there are four, the size of grapes, on my lime tree branches with its healthy and shiny twinned lime leaves.
NB: Expert Thai chef and food writer Pim Techamuamvivit (I'd love to visit her award winning restaurant Kin Khao) pointed out on Twitter that no Thai would ever garnish a curry with coriander. My bad. I've only been to Thailand once, for a month, and somehow failed to notice this. So if you want to be more authentic, don't garnish with coriander.
Red Thai Curry Recipe (Vegan)
5 long dried chillies (more if you like lots of heat), soaked in cold salty water for half an hour, deseeded
1 tbsp gros sel (sea salt)
3 cms galangal, chopped
3 lemon grass branches, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (kaffir preferably)
30g or 1 pot of coriander roots pulled out and washed, chopped, leaves set aside
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 fresh lime leaves, finely chopped
400g tin of coconut milk
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
200g baby sweet corn
400g mushrooms (chestnut or button), quartered
Juice of 1 lime
Pound the first 9 ingredients together in a large pestle and mortar. This is the proper way to do it and yes I spent half an hour virtuously grinding away. Eventually I had an achey arm and decided that it still wasn't sufficiently ground so I whizzed it with a can of coconut milk in the Vitamix. Job done.
Pour this mixture into a deep wide pan on a medium heat. Simmer for five minutes then add the peppers. Five minutes later add the baby corn. Finally add the mushrooms for 3 minutes.
Add the coriander leaves, the lime juice and serve with jasmine rice.