Fragrant Thai red curry with chicken and prawns makes a delicious mid-week supper. It’s packed with so much flavour you’d be forgiven for thinking it takes all day to make, but it’s actually ready in minutes.
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So easy and delicious
If you’re worried that making Thai food is difficult, then worry no more. This recipe for Thai red curry couldn’t be easier. If you follow my 4 easy steps you could be tucking into delicious Thai red curry with chicken and prawns tonight.
- Preparation – for this recipe, most of the work is in the preparation. Get that out of the way and you are three-quarters done!
- Sear the chicken and prawns – just a quick sear in a frying pan to seal the chicken and turn the prawns pink.
- Fry off the curry paste – I always think that frying off the curry paste brings out the flavour of the spices.
- Simmer in the sauce – finally mix everything together and simmer until cooked. What could be easier?
And once it’s ready, you will have a mouth-watering, restaurant-quality dish that will have the whole family asking for seconds.
Don’t worry about the heat
Now, you may be worried that Thai red curry may be too spicy. But don’t worry – you can control the heat yourself by controlling the amount of chilli you add. I use a brand of Thai red curry from my local supermarket that isn’t too spicy at all – just full of flavour. In fact, I like to add extra chillies when I’m making this dish. You can leave them out if you prefer.
A classic Thai curry has all the five elements of taste – sweet, sour, spicy, salty and umami. The sweetness is provided by coconut milk, and also brown sugar. The sourness comes from lime juice and lemongrass paste. The spiciness is provided by chilli. Salt provides saltiness and umami comes from fish sauce. While making this dish you should taste as you go so that you can adjust the balance of flavour if necessary.
What I like about a Thai red curry is the way that your lips tingle slightly as you eat it, but there is no burn. Just lots of amazing aromatic flavours.
I like to serve this dish with a pile of noodles, but it goes equally well with a bowl of white fragrant jasmine rice.
- Prep time – 15 minutes
- Cooking time – 15 minutes
- Yield – serves 4 people
- Calories – 630 per serving
- Main equipment – Large wok or frying pan. I like to use my wok for making this dish because it’s large enough to take all the ingredients easily. If you don’t have a wok, a large frying pan works just as well.
What you will need
These are the ingredients you will need.
Prawns – you will need frozen raw prawns. I buy ready cleaned and shelled prawns. If your prawns are still in the shell, just remove the heads, peel away the shell and remove the black vein running along the back. The easiest way to do this is to make a slit along the back of the prawn with a sharp knife and pull the vein out.
Chicken – for the chicken you can either use breast or boneless, skinless thighs, or even a mixture of the two
Coconut milk – you can use either full fat or reduced fat. The choice is yours.
Thai red curry paste – I use ready made Thai red curry paste from my local supermarket. If you really want to make your own curry paste you can find the recipe on the RecipeTinEats website.
Vegetables – you can use any mixture of vegetables you prefer. For this recipe, I have used shredded Chinese cabbage, pak choi, green beans and beansprouts. Sliced red or yellow peppers also make a nice addition, or you could use sugar snap peas, broccoli, mushrooms, celery and even onions – whatever you happen to have in the refrigerator. You should allow about 1 cup of mixed vegetables per person.
Lemongrass paste, garlic and ginger – these are essential Thai flavours. I find that shop-bought curry paste doesn’t have quite enough of these flavours so I like to add extra.
Lime juice (not shown) – a tablespoon of lime juice adds the essential sour element to this dish.
Fish sauce – this adds an umami flavour, and contrary to its name, does not taste fishy at all.
Brown sugar – for a hint of sweetness.
Chilli – this is for extra heat, and how much you use is entirely up to you. I find that two birds eye red chillies is enough for my taste. I like to remove the seeds, because that is where most of the heat comes from. If you don’t have fresh chillies to hand you can substitute with dried chilli flakes.
Chicken stock cube – dissolved in boiling water. If you have real chicken stock in the refrigerator you could use that instead.
Cornflour (or cornstarch) – for coating the chicken and for thickening the sauce.
Fresh coriander – I like to stir some freshly chopped coriander through at the last minute, and then sprinkle a little on top just before serving.
Sunflower oil (or any other neutral flavoured oil such as canola) – for frying the chicken.
Salt – optional as always, or to your own taste.
The key to getting this dish on the table quickly is all in the preparation. Once that is out of the way, the dish practically cooks itself.
- Remove any skin from the chicken and then cut it into bite-sized pieces. Mix the chicken with 2 tablespoons of cornflour and 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Defrost the prawns, or peel and devein them if you are using unshelled ones.
- Clean and/or peel the vegetables and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- If using fresh chilli, remove the seeds and membranes and chop finely.
- Dissolve the stock cube in one cup of boiling water and then mix in the lime juice, brown sugar and the fish sauce.
Cook and chicken and prawns
- Heat sunflower oil in a large wok or frying pan and then add the chicken pieces. Fry gently until they turn golden (image 1 above). Don’t overcrowd the pan or they will release moisture and boil rather than fry. Do this in batches if your pan is on the small side. Once browned, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Now fry the prawns until they turn pink (image 2 above), then add them to the browned chicken.
- Place the red curry paste, ginger, garlic and lemongrass paste into the pan and fry gently for 2 minutes (image 3 above).
Cook the vegetables and make the sauce
- Add the chopped vegetables to the spices in the pan and stir to coat thoroughly (image 1 above).
- Pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the chicken and prawns back to the pan and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through (image 2 above).
- Taste for flavour and adjust if necessary.
- To thicken the sauce, mix 2 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch) with 2 tablespoons of water and stir through. Cook for another minute, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the chopped coriander.
- Garnish with more chopped coriander (image 3 above) and serve with either jasmine rice or Chinese noodles.
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Yes absolutely, this dish freezes beautifully. We are only 2 people at home and I always make a full batch (this recipe serves 4) and freeze half for another meal. It’s a great standby to keep in the freezer.
Just allow it to cool and then ladle into a large plastic container. It can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months.
To use, allow to defrost (either overnight in the refrigerator, or if you are in a hurry you can defrost it in the microwave).
Transfer to a saucepan and heat until piping hot. Serve immediately with rice or noodles. Do not refreeze.
Yes, you can make Thai red curry with chicken and prawns in advance. Store it, covered, in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat it and then reheat in a saucepan until piping hot. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.
The main ingredients in Thai red curry paste are red chilli peppers, garlic, ginger or galangal, lemongrass, shrimp paste, lime, coriander and cumin.
Thai red curry is made using red chillies, whereas Thai green curry is made using green chillies and coriander root. Green chillies tend to be hotter than red chillies so you will probably find that Thai green curry is the spicier of the two.
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Other recipes you may like
If you are looking for other Thai inspired dishes, why not try one of these:
Thai red curry with chicken and prawns
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Meat and vegetables
- 6½ oz (180g) frozen raw prawns or shrimp defrosted
- 1 lb (450g) skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into pieces
- 1 medium red pepper or capsicum sliced
- 1 cup chinese cabbage shredded
- 1 head pak choi coarsely chopped
- 1 cup beansprouts washed
- 1 cup green beans chopped
- 2 medium red chilli finely sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh coriander chopped
- 2 tablespoons cornflour or cornstarch for coating the chicken
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil for frying
Sauce and spices
- 4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons lemongrass paste
- 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour or cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- Defrost the frozen prawns and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Coat the chicken in a mixture of 2 tablespoons cornflour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Leave to stand while you prepare the vegetables.
- Remove the seeds and membranes from the red pepper and cut them into slices. Chop the pak choi into 2"-long pieces. Snip the ends off the green beans and cut into 2" pieces. Shred the Chinese cabbage. Remove the seeds and membranes from the red chilli and slice thinly. Rinse the beansprouts in cold water and drain.
- Dissolve the stock cube in one cup of boiling water, then add the coconut milk, brown sugar and fish sauce. Mix well and set aside until required.
Thai red curry
- Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the chicken in batches until it starts to turn brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Fry the prawns/shrimp in the same pan until they turn pink. Add to the chicken on the plate.
- Place the red curry paste, ginger, garlic and lemongrass paste into the pan and fry gently for 2 minutes (add a splash more oil if needed).
- Add all the vegetables (red pepper, pak choi, shredded cabbage, beans and beansprouts) to the pan and stir to coat with the red curry paste.
- Add the prepared stock and the coconut milk and stir well.
- Cover the wok or frying pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still crisp.
- Add the chicken and prawns to the vegetables in the wok and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes until the chicken is completely cooked through.
- Taste for flavour and adjust if necessary.
- Make a slurry with 2 teaspoons of cornflour and water and stir into the mixture. Stir until thickened.
- Stir in ¾ of the chopped coriander, garnish with the remaining coriander and serve immediately with either a bowl of fragrant jasmine rice or thin Chinese noodles.
- Add more lime juice or lemongrass paste for sourness
- Add more brown sugar for sweetness
- Add chilli paste for extra heat (spiciness). Note – don’t add extra chopped fresh chilli at this time as the chilli won’t have time to cook through.
- Add salt for saltiness.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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