“Gaeng” is what Thai people call curry. They are hugely popular in Thailand and eaten by many Thais regularly. However, Gaeng means more than just the Western idea of a thickened spicy liquid. Thai Gaeng has such variety and even includes thin, light, perhaps bland soups such as Gaeng Jeut. Gaengs are so popular in Thailand that you will even find them in the frozen section of any convenience store such as 7-11 or Family Mart. I will write more about the fascination of Thai curries next time.
Today I am going to talk about the Gaengs that everyone knows – “Curries” with a coconut milk base. They are so yummy and you should never miss the opportunity to eat one when you can.
1. Chicken Green Curry (Gaeng Khew Wan)
This curry is popular all over the world and I must say that this curry is the probably the most popular curry in Thailand. You will find it literally everywhere. It is classic and easy to eat.
The flavours of a green curry paste come from fresh green chillies, sharpened with galangal and shallots. Fry the paste with coconut milk and cook with the meat of your choice – the most popular being chicken. The characteristics of this gaeng are hot, creamy and salty so it can definitely be quite pungent! Best eaten with Jasmine rice but sometimes we eat it rice noodles (kanom jean – a savoury Chinese noodle dessert), it will bring you serious comfort and satisfaction.
2. Chicken or beef Mussaman
Masaman is one of closest curry to the western world curry. It is very popular among all western friends I know as it is easy to eat, not too spicy and yummy.
The gaeng soup is thick, rich and stewy. Mussaman is cooked with beef, chicken, lamb or even goat. It is originally from the south and Thai muslim community so we don’t cook it with pork. Potatoes and roasted peanuts are also in this curry. The creamy coconut milk along with the smell and flavours from spices such as cumin, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg make Mussamun curry simply divine. Grab a plate of steaming rice now to eat with it.
3. Pork Panang
This curry is probably the curry of choice for most Thai people. Panang is a creamy coconut red curry with sweet, salty and peanut flavours. Some say Panang is originally from Penang in Malaysia; others say Panang came from India. Whilst we are not sure of its origin, we can all agree on how delicious it is. There is no pungent taste here, just the soft and the sweet. Normally we don’t add vegetables to this dish as the aromas of the spices in the paste with the coconut milk already bring that wow factor to this dish.
4. Roast duck red curry (Gaeng Ped Ped Yang)
It is a mix of Thai and Chinese cuisine. It is not easy to find this dish at street food stalls. You will need to go to restaurants for this one. This dish you can taste the sweet, salty and sour which is from the fruit and vegetable that we put into the curry. I normally put pineapple and tomatoes into my curry. Though cooking with red chilli paste, it is not too spicy so it is easy to eat. The secret of this dish is to choose the best roast duck to put into our curry. The great smell of sweet basil and kaffir lime leaves help this dish to smell and taste amazing.
5. Curry-fried prawns (Chuu Chii Goong)
This yummy dish is a restaurant dish. It uses the red curry paste but the amount of liquid in our curry is very little. It is mainly used for just seafood such as Chuu Chai Prawns and Chuu Chii Pla Too ( Makerel). The curry is creamy and wonderful. This is another curry that is not pungent and spicy. Some new Thai recipes make Chuu Chii with Salmon which is also fantastic.
We normally garnish this with Kaffir lime leaves and coconut cream. Finely chopped kaffir lime leaves will really bring out the smells and tastes of this curry.
Order them next time and let me know what you think in the comment or look for more dishes at my instagram