Red Thai Crock-Pot Chicken Curry

I never had Thai food before coming to Seattle in 2006.  After tasting the amazing flavors (particularly at Pen Thai restaurant in Bothell, WA) of red and green Thai curry, my husband and I started developing our very own Thai curries–completely from scratch. We obtained a recipe passed onto us from a friend that took a local Thai cooking class, made it completely archerfriendly, and from there developed our own red and green curries.

Then we discovered Thai curry paste, both green and red.

Although we loved our own curry, the pastes have really given us restaurant tasting Thai curry when we don’t have the time to make our own.  It’s also cheaper for us to use the paste, since we’re not separately purchasing all of the ingredients (especially the Kaffir lime leaves).

We specifically designed this recipe to go straight in the crock-pot, making it exceptionally easy for you to obtain great tasting curry with minimum time and hassle.

If you want your curry to taste “authentic”,  you need to get a good fish sauce.  Pantai Fish Sauce (Shrimp Brand) is what has been recommended to us as being one of the best.  However, we haven’t used it since it also contains MSG and sugar.  We have been using Chuan Choen Fish Sauce with satisfying results, which you can see to the left.  The ingredients are mackerel fish extract, water, and salt.

While writing this post I realized that the ingredients of this fish sauce have somehow missed my mercury detecting radar.  Just a few minutes ago, I checked my fish guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council, and saw that king mackerel is at risk for containing the highest level of mercury found in fish.  I don’t know if Chuan Choen Fish Sauce uses king mackerel or just regular mackerel, but from now on, I’m not going to use it.  Next time I go to the store, I’m going to pick up this fish sauce, made by Thai Kitchen.  Their fish sauce uses anchovies, which contain the least amount of mercury.  Although it does contain “unrefined cane sugar”, I’ll take that over mercury any day.  Besides, if I used two tablespoons of their fish sauce, it may not even make a gram of sugar.  If you find a fish sauce made with a low mercury level fish that does not contain sugar, I’d love to know about it!  Whatever brand of fish sauce you choose to buy, remember that good fish sauce does not stink.

I also have a Green Thai Crock-Pot Curry recipe to share with you, so I will re-test it with Thai Kitchen’s fish sauce and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Since I mentioned authenticity, I must tell you that adding honey to a Thai curry recipe is not authentic.  The honey does alter the flavor a tiny smidgen, since most recipes just call for sugar.

Let’s face it, this crock-pot version is so good that we haven’t gone back to making it from scratch since.

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8 Responses

  1. Pamela

    Super excited to try this new recipe! Ever since we tasted the chicken curry you brought us, we were in love. Also, crock pots definitely make my life easier with 2 young kids. Thanks Archer! :D


  2. Greg Bodwell

    Oh man, next year I will have my own kitchen and I will be making this! Thai food is the greatest!


  3. Connie Williams

    This looks fantastic. I am going back to the nursery today to get some Thai basil for my garden.
    Great job! C


  4. Jim

    I made this last week and it was amazing :) I ended up using thai kitchen fish sauce and curry paste. This was my first time cooking with fish sauce so I can’t tell what part of the flavor would change. I’m sad I only made a half batch :(.

    Last Friday I went to a thai place in Mill Creek at the town center. I ordered their red curry and it tasted similar to how this recipe turned out. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve cooked something that actually rivaled restaurant quality. Thanks, Archer!


  5. Homero

    As far as fish sauce goes, I like three crabs brand, but I recently got hooked on Red Boat Fish Sauce. Its fantastic, only has anchovies and salt as the ingredients, and you can find it at Whole Foods. It’s a little pricier, so I use it primarily for special occasions, but give it a try sometime.


    Dr. Archer

    Hi Homero — thanks for the tip! I will totally try it out!


  6. Kelly

    I made this for dinner tonight but added a lot of extra veggies. The sauce (coconut milk/honey/fish sauce/curry paste) separated – almost like the coconut milk curdled. It still tasted great, it just didn’t look appetizing. Has this happened to anyone else? Maybe it was caused by water from all the veg I added?


    Dr. Archer Atkins

    Hi Kelly,

    I am so, so sorry that the coconut milk curdled and that the appearance of the dish was unappetizing. Did you leave the coconut milk in the crock-pot longer than recommended? Sometimes the coconut milk can curdle when in the crock-pot all day, and it has happened to me before. Since I have posted this recipe in 2011, I have found a new way to make the crock-pot curry without the coconut milk curdling. I will try to update the recipe with the new version this weekend. Thank you so much for your feedback. It helped me prioritize the recipe update to the top of my website to-do list!


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