The Secret Ingredient (Coconut): Veggie Red Coconut Curry Recipe

The Secret Ingredient

Every month we highlight a different ingredient and share weekly recipes that showcase its uses.

The Secret Ingredient (Coconut): Veggie Red Coconut Curry Recipe

In the last few weeks, we've seen coconut as a sweet flavoring for rice pudding and as a crispy coating for shrimp, but it's also a perfect vehicle for sauce.

I love the sweet, cool spiciness of a Thai curry. Almost angry in its heat, complicated and torrid in its flavors, Thai curry may be ubiquitous, but it's not obvious. I was never particularly talented at cooking Asian food; the flavors are so far removed from the French food I learned growing up and later in school. It was my boyfriend who taught me to make Thai curry about three years ago. In fact, it was the first meal he ever made me.

To make it is so simple. I pre-boil yams, broccoli, green beans, peppers, and carrots, and then stew them in a sauce made from coconut milk and curry paste. You can make your own curry paste, but for this recipe I prefer to use really good Thai red curry paste that you can find in the store. (Where I live, it is not easy to find the Kaffir lime leaves and galangal that I would need to make the paste, and that might be the same case for you.) The result is luscious and creamy, but also spicy, tart, and nose-soakingly pungent from the garlic and galangal. The curry is fire and the coconut is ice, and together they hit that equilibrium at the heart of any good relationship.

  • Yield:serves 4 to 6
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:15 minutes


  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound yam, peeled, in a half-inch dice
  • 6 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, in strips
  • 2 carrots, cut as thinly as possible on an angle
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 lime, quartered


  1. 1.

    Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Salt the water. Set a timer to 10 minutes. Add the yams. After 5 minutes, add the green beans. When there are 3 1/2 minutes left, add the broccoli. When there are 2 minutes left, add the red pepper and carrots. When the timer goes off, drain the vegetables into a large colander.

  2. 2.

    Return the stockpot to the stove over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and Thai curry paste (the more curry paste, the more flavor and spice), and whisk to combine. Taste, and season with salt. Once the coconut milk is hot, add the vegetables, and allow them to simmer in the curry for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over rice.