Today is an exciiittiinnggg day! I absolutely ADORE Thai food. And I mean, who doesn’t. It’s nutritious, flavorful, and offers so many different umami triggers and components! In my opinion, it can hardly get better than this! My curry obsession is kind of lofty, and I won’t lie, making homemade green curry paste can be a bit of an expensive bear.
To mitigate this, I decided to try a few of the most popular Thai green curry pastes on the market and put them up side-by-side…in a green curry showdown, if you will. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I usually just stick to one supermarket brand and doctor it up to suit my tastes. It still doesn’t compare to a true Thai green curry, and I wanted to change this! I wondered, would they all be similar? Would some be hot as hell and inedible? Would one actually be better than the rest? Well we are about to find out aren’t we!
Traditionally, Thai green curry paste is made form green chilies, garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, cilantro, cumin, other spices, and galangal (an aromatic plant species). Our pastes all had a variation of these ingredients. Of course they are all vegan, too!
Firstly, our contenders were:
- DeSiam Thai Green Curry Paste (a Thai independently owned company)
- A Taste of Thai Green Curry Paste (imported and distributed by Andre Prost, Inc.)
- Simply Asia Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste (owned by McCormick USA)
- Thai and True Green Curry Paste (independently owned in Oregon, USA)
I had tried #3 before, but all the rest were new to me, and I was pretty excited! First, let’s talk about taste and texture BEFORE we cook these pastes. All the pastes had similar visual texture and consistency. Some were greener than others. But the taste is where the differences really came in.
And here is a close up look at the pastes as well:
- DeSiam was powerfully earthy, spicy, and bright. The lemongrass and kaffir lime notes really shone through. I liked that it wasn’t loaded with sodium.
- A Taste of Thai was strong in garlic and spices which I liked. It was kind of sweet, but it was also very salty. The texture was the “driest” of all the pastes.
- Simply Asia Thai Kitchen was super HOT and reminiscent of curries I’d tried before, but it didn’t seem like the spice balanced well with the other flavors. The ingredient list was pretty basic as well.
- Thai and True had a clean, appealing aroma and a lot of floral and limey spice. It had the most mild flavor of all 4 so far.
I decided to try each curry in the exact same recipe. I made a fresh batch of basmati rice, fried up some tofu cubes, and toasted some sesame seeds to use in each recipe. I set all those aside and began to choose my veggies.
I went with snow peas, red bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, garlic, and ginger. The complete recipe will be included below, so you can make your own bomb curry anytime!
First I sautéed the peppers and peas in a bit of sesame oil. Then I began adding the remainder of my ingredients, the curry pastes, and the coconut milk and simmering everything away to perfection. My kitchen smelled amazing! And yes, I was drinking a lot of water between bites of all of these different curries! Spicy!
1. The DeSiam was wonderfully aromatic and flavorful. The spice was pretty potent, but the bit of sugar I added during cooking, along with the bright notes of lime and lemongrass, quickly appealed to my every sense and balanced out the flavor. A lot of savoriness going on.
2. A Taste of Thai was just, meh. It was “good”, but very bland overall in flavor. I didn’t pick up on any spices or anything else for that matter. Despite the lack of flavor, it was still too salty.
3. Simply Asia Thai Kitchen was similar to how I remembered it. It is very spicy, so for those who don’t care for much spice this might not be the curry for you. I enjoy the sweetness and heat balance, and could taste a bit of freshness in there, but not as much as I would like.
4. Thai and True was pretty good. It continued to offer floral aromas that were unique to the other pastes. It wasn’t very spicy, so that can be good or bad. I prefer a little spice so I did miss that component.
Plated comparison of all 4 dishes:
I noted several poignant differences in amount of spice and balance with other flavors such as garlic, shallots, kaffir lime, and lemongrass. I also noted that each curry paste played differently with the coconut milk and the sugar. None of these pastes were bad, per se, but I wouldn’t buy most of them again if I had access to the one I chose for the winner.
Now, the hard part! Choosing a winner!
In 4th place we have Simply Asia Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste. Again, it wasn’t completely unappealing, but it was too hot and lacked substance otherwise.
In 3rd place is A Taste of Thai Green Curry Paste. It was too mild and sweet for a true curry.
In 2nd place I have Thai and True Green Curry Paste. I liked this one a lot. It was strong, earthy, and well balanced.
But! Even my #2 wasn’t as freakin’ delicious as my winner! It stood out bar none. It was bright, full of fresh flavor, aromatic spices, and just the right amount of heat to make you pay attention but not enough to make it hard to eat!
The honors go to Desiam Thai Green Curry Paste!!!
I literally remade this recipe 3 times in the days following my comparison adventure. I was in love. My boyfriend and even the kids really liked this one too. It’s an extremely good paste!
So, there you have it folks. I have done the dirty work and found a green curry paste that transports your tastebuds straight to Thailand, where authentic curry bowls are as unique as the culture within which they originated.
Please enjoy the recipe below, and let me know if you try any of these green curry pastes! Or, is there another one I need to try that didn’t make this list?!
The Ultimate Thai Green Curry Recipe
Green curry is a bright, spicy, and aromatic paste that pairs perfectly with mild long grain rice and sautéed vegetables. Coconut milk takes down the heat of this dish to a wildly flavorful level.
- 1.5 cups jasmine or basmati rice uncooked
- 1 block extra firm tofu pressed
- 1 pack quality Thai green curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk any 15-16 oz. variety
- 1.5 cups snow peas
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 gloves fresh garlic minced
- 2 tbsps fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 cup scallions sliced thin
- 1 lime
- 4 tbsps sesame oil
- 2 tbsps sesame seeds toasted
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup flour white or wheat
- 1 tbsp. organic sugar
Cook rice according to package directions and set aside, keeping warm.
Toast your sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat and set aside.
Take 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper and mix well with the 1/2 cup of flour. After pressing your tofu, cut into small 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. Toss cubes gently in flour, shaking off excess.
Head 2 tbsps. of sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu. Let crisp for about 2-3 minutes, then carefully turn each cube. Crisp for 2-3 more minutes, and turn again. Continue turning and allowing to crisp until all sides are nicely cooked. Set aside and keep warm.
In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tbsps. of sesame oil. Add in red peppers, snow peas, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in carrots, bean sprouts, garlic, and ginger. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. If the heat is too high, reduce heat to medium.
Make an empty space in the side of your pan and add 1 pack of Thai green curry paste. Toast the paste in your pan, stirring for about 1 minute.
Add your sugar and 1 can of coconut milk, mix everything in your pan together. You should now have a nice, light green sauce. Heat thoroughly. If vegetables are to your desired tenderness, remove sauce from heat. If not, continue to cook 2-5 minutes until vegetables are done.
To plate, place cooked rice in one side of a bowl and using a big spoon, serve curry sauce and vegetables on the other side of the bowl. Top as desired with crisped tofu, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and lime juice.