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Thai red curry sauce with chicken, quinoa

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Thai Red Curry Sauce with chicken, quinoa Today I made a Thai red curry sauce, with chicken and quinoa on the side.  I usually use quinoa as a substitute for white rice. …. and I have about 10 pounds of quinoa in my pantry, as my husband could not pass up a chance to buy it in bulk at a much cheaper price.

I love Thai food and good Thai restaurants and often try to replicate Thai dishes at home.   After trying many recipes for red curry sauce, experimenting with ingredients and proportions, I came up with this wonderful curry sauce, which is now my “go-to” recipe and is very popular with my family.  I’m really glad that I can cook my favorite Thai dishes at home! Because this way I can control so many things on my end: the ingredients I use, for instance, I like to use high quality chicken, cook different types of vegetables, serve quinoa instead of rice and so on.


Thai red curry sauce, chicken, quinoa

Thai red curry sauce with chicken, quinoa


Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 40 min


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste if it is of moderate spiciness, such as Thai Kitchen brand. Use less of red curry paste if using a spicier version of the paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (use more or less sugar, depending on your preference)
  • 1 tablespoonlemon grass (or 1 lemon grass stalk)
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • basil leaves
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water

This recipe makes 2 generous servings.

1)      In a medium pan, heat olive oil.  Add sliced mushrooms and sliced bell pepper.  Cook on high heat for 10 minutes until vegetables soften.

2)      In the mean time, cook chicken breast (or use the one already cooked).  You can either boil it, or roast it in the oven.  After it’s cooked, cut the chicken breast in medium size pieces .

3)      Bring coconut milk in a large pan to boil, reduce to simmer.  Add 1 tablespoon of curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, lemon grass, and stir really well so that curry paste dissolves. Taste your stew and add 2nd tablespoon of curry paste, if desired. For a red curry paste, I usually use the one produced by Thai Kitchen (it’s a popular brand sold in most stores).    I like to use frozen lemon grass (chopped lemon grass), which you just add and it remains in the dish.  If I were to use a lemon grass stalk – I would remove it at the end of cooking time.  Simmer for 30 minutes for all tastes to blend.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add cooked vegetables and sliced chicken breast into the soup, stir well.

4)      In the mean time, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup quinoa to boil, reduce to medium and cook quinoa for 10-15 minutes until all water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked al dente.

5)      To serve, pour soup into each bowl, garnish with basil leaves.  Serve quinoa in a separate bowl.



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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Kate September 28, 2012, 2:34 am

    I made this tonight and I have to say it is delicious! Thank you

    • Julia September 28, 2012, 6:28 pm

      Very happy to hear that!

  • Toya W. August 13, 2013, 9:55 pm

    I made this tonight. I would use less brown sugar next time. Too sweet! I didn’t have lemongrass so I squeezed lemon. great

    • Julia August 14, 2013, 2:02 pm

      Thanks, Toya, for stopping by! Yes, 3 tablespoons of packed brown sugar could be too sweet for a lot of people, so I just corrected the recipe to 2 or 3 tablespoons (depending on your preference).

  • chloe August 30, 2013, 8:54 am

    How necessary is the fish sauce? Is it for just for flavor? I’d consider making it without it only because the people I cook for are not a fan of seafood of any kind.

    • Julia August 30, 2013, 3:11 pm

      Chloe, fish sauce is used here to add some flavor plus saltiness. You can get away without the fish sauce, but you will have to add more salt to taste, or maybe even some squeezed lemon juice. I personally don’t feel any fishiness in this recipe from 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, but if your guests are very sensitive, removing the fish sauce and adding salt and/or lemon juice instead should work.

    • Melissa September 10, 2013, 7:44 pm

      Coconut Aminos is a good sub for fish sauce (and soy sauce!). You get the saltiness and a lot of flavor without worrying about any fishiness if you don’t want it 🙂

  • Monica September 2, 2013, 7:20 pm

    I made this last night! It was incredible!! Thank you for the recipe!! It was even better than our favorite Thai restaurant version. I doubled it but I did not double the fish sauce or brown sugar (used 2 TBLS) and we thought it was wonderful! I served it with a lime wedge too b/c the lemongrass stalks I used were not as flavorful. Thank you!!

    • Julia September 6, 2013, 4:44 am

      So glad you liked it! It’s my favorite recipe for a red curry sauce, and I use it all the time myself, too. I also think it’s better than what you get at some Thai restaurants! 🙂

  • Hannah October 27, 2013, 9:55 pm

    I made this tonight for us, our kids, and our Chinese exchange student. Both my husband and our student love spicy food so they were really happy, but my kids and I were unable to eat it due to how spicy it was. I was disappointed because I could tell that despite the spiciness, the flavour was amazing. Also, I doubled the recipe and it was more than enough for the 5 of us. Next time I’ll double everything except for the red curry paste, and hopefully we can all eat it.

    • Julia November 5, 2013, 2:28 am

      Hannah, I found that not all red curry pastes are created equal. Some are spicier than others. I need to mention this in this recipe. I think in this recipe I used Thai Kitchen red curry paste which had a moderate spiciness, but later on I used a paste I purchased from the Asian store – and it was much spicier. I will make a note in the recipe.

  • Edith Katz January 5, 2014, 7:07 pm

    Where do you find the lemongrass? Is there a brand to look for?

    • Julia January 6, 2014, 2:46 pm

      Edith, dry lemongrass stalks are usually sold in most grocery stores, along with other herbs. I bought it at Sprouts, Whole Foods, Fairway. Lemongrass (fresh and frozen, not dry stalks) is also sold at Asian markets. Both types of lemongrass, frozen/fresh (and finely chopped) or dry lemongrass stalks work in this recipe!

  • Nancy January 17, 2014, 3:06 am

    Julia, I made this tonight for my boyfriend and I and we enjoyed it very much! I used more capsicums and mushrooms so it absorbed more of the sauce, it became a less saucy version but just as delicious! I only dared to use one tablespoon of the red curry paste 😛

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe, my boyfriend said I must make this again!

    • Julia January 17, 2014, 2:37 pm

      Nancy, thank you for such a sweet comment! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂 I myself love homemade Thai curries and make this regularly! 🙂

  • Anna January 19, 2014, 8:57 pm

    Would absolutely love this if nutritional information was included.

    • Julia January 20, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Hi Anna, I have not yet figured out how to efficiently add nutrition info to my recipes, but a lot of people use and recommend this site for calorie count: http://caloriecount.about.com/

  • Susan August 18, 2014, 10:11 pm

    I didn’t have mushrooms so I substituted cauliflower, and it was delicious! I was wondering if you could use light coconut milk to make it a little less rich?

    • Julia August 19, 2014, 2:28 pm

      Susan, using cauliflower instead of mushrooms is a great idea – I need to try that! Of course, you can use light coconut milk vs. regular one.

  • Mel October 3, 2015, 11:51 am

    came here from Pinterest. Your sit is so full of popup ads I cannot read a whole recipe. They take me to other sites as they wont let me close them. Looked like you have some good stuff here but can’t get through the ads to find out.

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