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Get To Know Choo Chee Curry

Thai cuisine is legendary for its fusion-infused dishes that may appear somewhat familiar but are rather unique when it comes to taste and flavor. A Thai Choo Chee curry would be one of the most delectable options for anyone new to Thai cuisine or for anybody simply craving to try something new. Plus, this is moderately easy to prepare at home, when all the ingredients are available and prepared!

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choochee curry thai food
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What is Choo Chee Curry?

Thai Choo Chee curry is a sumptuous coconut milk-based curry that often features mackerel, though it can be made with various types of seafood. It boasts a complex array of herbs and spices, contributing to its status as a richly flavorful Thai curry. The dish typically has a red to orange hue, which is as visually appealing as it is tantalizing to the palate. Known for its exquisite balance of spicy, sour, and sweet tastes, Choo Chee curry embodies the authentic flavor profile Thai cuisine is celebrated for. While it may not have the same international fame as some Thai dishes, Choo Chee curry is cherished locally and is a common find in Thai restaurants, especially in central Thailand. It offers a delightful alternative to other curry dishes with its distinct use of seafood.

Is Choo Chee Curry Spicy?

Thai cuisine is renowned for its enthusiastic use of spices, and Choo Chee curry often carries the heat you would expect from a dish made with red curry paste, which includes red chilies. While the spiciness level is generally moderate due to the creamy coconut milk balancing the heat, it can still feel quite intense for some. When using store-bought curry paste, the spiciness is predetermined, but if the heat is a concern, you can mitigate it by adding more coconut milk or cream to the curry, which can help mellow the spiciness without altering the fundamental flavors of the dish. Another approach is to enhance the dish with additional sweeteners like palm sugar, which can also help to tame the heat.

Choo Chee Curry vs. Red Curry

Technically, you could say that Choo Chee is a type of red curry, given that its foundation is the red curry paste. What sets it apart from other red curries is its notably richer and more concentrated sauce, as well as the inclusion of seafood, especially fish, which is a signature of this delectable dish.

While Choo Chee curry shares some ingredients with other Thai red curries, it is generally richer and creamier due to the reduced coconut milk which creates a more concentrated sauce. Additionally, Choo Chee often has a slightly sweeter taste and is less soupy than standard red curries.
In short, Choo Chee curry can be considered a specific variation of Thai red curry with a unique preparation method and presentation, typically featuring seafood as the main protein.

mackerel choo chee curry

How To Prepare an Authentic Choo Chee Curry

Cooking a delicious Choo Chee curry is fairly straightforward. There are no complex techniques or hard-to-find ingredients involved, making it accessible for most home cooks with basic cooking skills. The key to success with this dish, as with many in Thai cuisine, lies in using a high-quality red curry paste to get the right balance of flavors.

Key Ingredients:

  • 3-4 mackerel filets with skin on
  • 2-3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons neutral flavored oil
  • Water
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar (can be substituted with brown sugar)
  • 1-2 Fresh Thai red chilies (optional)

Preparing the curry:

Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the red curry paste and 3 tablespoons of coconut milk. Cook until fragrant.

Gradually add a small amount of water and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil from the coconut milk separates and rises to the surface. If you prefer a less creamy consistency, you can add a little more water to achieve your preferred texture.

Pour in the remaining coconut milk and stir well to combine.

Once the curry sauce begins to boil, gently place the mackerel into the pan.
Season with sugar, a pinch of salt, and fish sauce (soy sauce can be used as an alternative). Adjust the taste to your preference.

If using a shallow pan, once the bottom side of the fish is cooked, carefully flip it to cook the other side.

When the fish is cooked through, sprinkle sliced kaffir lime leaves on top.

Bring to a boil once more, then remove from heat and serve. This dish can be customized to taste, and you can substitute coconut milk with plant-based milk or low-fat milk if preferred. Serve with jasmine rice.

Preparing the Fish

In Thailand whole fish, such as mackerel, is typically cooked with bones in, as Thai people are used to eating around them. If you’re using smaller mackerel, it might be easier to cook them whole and then remove the bones while eating.

If serving to guests who may not be accustomed to eating fish with bones, it’s often best to remove the bones first. This can be done by filleting the mackerel and carefully removing the pin bones with tweezers.

Substitutions

Choo Chee is a versatile dish and can be made with various types of seafood. While mackerel is a popular choice, you can substitute mackerel with other fish. Common alternatives include salmon, shrimp, scallops, or any firm-fleshed fish that can hold up well to the curry sauce without falling apart.

When substituting with another fish, consider the cooking time, as different types of fish may cook quicker or slower than mackerel. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure the fish is perfectly cooked through without becoming overdone. This flexibility makes Choo Chee curry a delightful dish that can be tailored to different tastes and available ingredients.