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How to make my weeknight Thai taste more like restaurant Thai?


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How to make my weeknight Thai taste more like restaurant Thai?

i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream | | Sep 24, 2012 03:51 PM

Hi all,
My weeknight cooking is limited to about 30 minutes, and is mostly vegetarian (meat probably once a week). I like to rotate rough facsimiles of different ethnic cuisines to keep things interesting (Mexican, Greek, Italian, Indian, etc.) and I've been tinkering with Thai lately. In this thread, I am mostly concerned with capturing the major flavors of the cuisine. (On weekdays, I'll dabble in more elaborate projects, and I'm always interested in _eating_ authentic preparations!!!)
The couple of quick Thai-ish meals I've made have been good, but really seem to be lacking some flavor.
For example-- tonight I made a quick green curry recipe that I found on Epicurious. Ingredients....

1 tablespoon vegetable oil ***(I used olive oil)
3/4 cup sliced shallots (about 5 large) ***(I used a yellow onion)
1 3/4 teaspoons Thai green curry paste ***(I used more like 3 tsp)
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips ***(did veggies instead)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips ***(omitted)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil plus sprigs for garnish ***(used cilantro instead)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus wedges for garnish ***(omitted)

The ingredients in the green curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand) are green chile , garlic, lemongrass, galangal, salt, shallot, and kaffir lime. I felt it was missing something when I served it over rice, so I added a little soy sauce.

What can I do to capture Thai flavor in a short amount of time? What key ingredients/spices/flavors am I missing-- adapted for the weeknight, sometimes improvising cook?

Thanks in advance!!!