Yellow Thai Curry

This is the easiest of all the Thai curry dishes – sweet and sour with warm flavors, and not overly hot. Here’s my recipe – garnished with a bit of Spicy Globe (bright citrus essence) basil. It’s a great way to convince meat and potatoes types to get their Thai on!

For the Yellow Curry:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 TBSP Thai Fish Sauce – the salty kind, not sweet (my favorite – this is ~$3 at the Asian market)
  • 2-3 yellow or white potatoes – about 1lb, cut into ~1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 TBSP Ginger-Garlic Paste (see note #1. )
  • 2-4 TBSP of Mae Ploy or Maesri (BRAND IS CRUCIAL) YELLOW curry paste – (see Note #2)
  • 1 16 oz can full cream coconut milk, or coconut cream (Trader Joes non-organic is best try the organic one though -and you’ll see why)
  • 1 can water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 6 ounce can bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 LARGE Sweet or White onion, wedge cut into about 5-6 slices
  • 2 TSBP packed brown sugar

For the Jasmine Rice: 

  • 1 cup high quality Jasmine Rice
  • 1 2/3 cup water

To Make the Yellow Curry: 

Place chicken (you can use bone-in, but remove the skin) with fish sauce in a glass bowl and stir. Let this sit for about 15 minutes. After about 12 minutes, heat the oil in a large nonstick wok style cooking pan over high heat. As soon as the oil is very hot, add the chicken carefully (the fish sauce will be mostly absorbed). Let the chicken brown over high heat with only occasional stirring just until there is color on each side, but without really cooking the chicken – about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken back to the glass bowl (or a clean one if you prefer – you’re going to continue cooking it anyway, so I use the old one). Pour off all the oil from the pan except 1 TBSP, and turn the heat down just a small amount – to ~medium high. Add the ginger-garlic paste, and the yellow curry paste and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. The paste will start to dry out and stick to the pan a little bit -that’s okay, just don’t yet it burn (hence the wooden spoon to scrape it loose). After ~3 minutes, your paste should be dry and very fragrant. Now add the can of coconut milk, and stir very well to combine the paste into the broth. Add the chicken back to the pan, and add the potatoes and the 1 1/2 tsp salt (mix well). Cover with a lid that just fits over your mixture(I use one from a pasta pot since the wok pans typically don’t come with lids). Turn the heat down to medium/medium low and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for ~20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the potatoes are tender. Add the can of water (use the coconut milk can) making sure the water is completely combined into the broth. Add the brown sugar and mix well (this is a sweet dish- hence the popularity with even picky juvenile eaters), then the drained bamboo shoots and onion wedges, then cover again and simmer for maybe 3 minutes – you want your onion to have a little crunch left in it. Remove from the flame and you’re ready to dish out the hearty, spicy goodness!

To Cook Jasmine Sticky Rice:

Combine the rice with the water and note the water level in the pan (I usually use the handle rivets for this, but a wooden spoon with a notch would work too). Wash the rice at least 5-6 times under running water, with strong stirring. The water should become starchy and cloudy – make sure you remove as much of that as possible each time. After the final rinse, add back enough water to reach the inital measured level. Cover tightly (a regular lid with the tiny air vent is perfect), and place on high flame or heat – you can jiggle the pan on the burner just once to make sure it’s evenly distributed then don’t touch it again. Watch closely, and as soon as the pot reaches a strong (but not overflowing) boil, turn down the heat to just barely a simmer – very low heat, but more than “warm”. Allow the rice to cook slowly for ~40 minutes without opening the lid or testing. if your pot is making noise, it is TOO HOT, if the lid is not HOT to touch it is TOO COLD. At 40 minutes, you should have a nice fluffy, well separated and not soggy batch of rice. This takes lots of practice, but if you’ve done it ten times and you still can’t get nice fluffy rice, just buy a rice cooker.

To garnish – I like a tangy citrus-flavored basil, lime wedge and cilantro. Alas on picture night, I only had the first on hand. I didn’t hear any complaints though!


  1. Ginger-Garlic Paste: I make lots of this at a time by combining equal parts fresh peeled and cubed ginger & garlic cloves with just enough water in the blender to make a paste – it stores for months in the freezer
  2. Amount of curry paste: determine the amount depending on how spicy you want your curry to be. More paste = more flavor, and yellow curry is not very hot, so I tend to go on the high end here, even when I’m feeding my 12 year old. At the local Asian markets (which are at least 9.1 miles from me), the curry pastes are about $1.89/can (2017) and ~$4.59/14 oz freezer container – we live so far away, I sprung for the Amazon Mae Ploy paste this last time, but I’ve also used Maesri for years at the same price.   I’d say they’re equivalent for yellow curry – but I can only vouch for the green, red and prig khing from Maesri, so I’d recommend the mixed set if you need to buy from Amazon. I’ll try to post recipes for these ASAP with links. Once opened, you can freeze your unused curry paste in plastic for at least 6 months.


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