Getting the right degree of thickening when cooking big amount of curry?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by dr cook, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. dr cook

    dr cook

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    Hi all,

    The title sais it all. I am wondering how to get the right amount of binding in a curry when I scale the recipes up; I found that just doubling the paste and coconutcream of stock doesn't really work for me. Somehow I find it difficult to scale curry recipes up without the curry becomming a bit to thin.

    Are any of you having the same thing when cooking bigger amounts or is it just me? I don't think it is traditional to use any kind of starch for the purpose of thickening? Eggplant might help a bit maybe? What are your suggestions? I am trying to perfect my curry skills... mjammieeee ;)
     
  2. butzy

    butzy

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    I wouldn't use any flour or so for thickening the curry. It will change the flavour, makes it duller.

    I normally wing it.

    By cooking it longer, the sauce/curry will thicken due to evaporation of the liquid. Obviously, you need to do this without covering the pot.

    You can always thin the sauce by adding more coconut cream or milk (or water even).

    What type of curry are you looking at?

    Thai or Indian?

    Vegetable, Chicken, Fish,Beef, Pork?
     
  3. dr cook

    dr cook

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    Hi Butzy,

    What means"winging it"? Hahaha no idear :)

    Let's say a somewhat big amount of red curry of chicken with some non starchy vegetables. Say two pints (two liter) of coconutmilk. As I scale the recipe up it becomes a lot thinner as the amount of curry paste used becomes even smaller compared to the amount of stock/coconutmilk involved. If I reduce the curry a lot, I get what I dont want; less curry. So basicaly the problem seens unsolvable to me; more curry means a thinner curry?

    thanks!
     
  4. butzy

    butzy

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    Why would the amount of curry paste used be smaller?

    If you double the amount of coconut milk, then you have to double the amount of curry paste and every other ingredient.
     
  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    It would help if you post your recipe and technique.  There are many styles of curry.
     
  6. dr cook

    dr cook

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    Yeah, that's what I meant. When you double the coconut milk you double the other ingredients too. Only doubling the amount of curry paste isn't really going to thicken double the amount of coconut milk in my experience.

    I am talking all kinds of (thai btw.!) curries here. green curies, red curries, jungle curries...

    For technique you could have a look at the other post about "how to make sure curries get oily" that I posted. I use the technique that David Thomson described. Mostly I make coconut based curries which require frying the paste. But also other curries

    Other ppl might have different experiences however. It should be interesting to hear them..
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the problems of doubling such recipes is that it takes more time to reduce the extra volume of liquid. However, the ingredients and timing doesn't support the extra cooking time without negative impacts on the final dish. 

    Further, many thickening effects break down and even fail over longer cooking times. 

    You probably need to stage the cooking of larger batches so that the proteins and vegetables aren't in the pot the full time. That you pre-reduce or concentrate stock and such so that the final cooking time together is within the bounds of  what the recipe ingredients will tolerate.
     
  8. dr cook

    dr cook

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    Wow..., just wow. Wel formulated. That is a lot of usable information put in a very clear way. Thank you Phatch!

    I might be even more successful, maybe also quicker, making two different batches (different pans) of curry and combine them... Never ever even thought about that.. Seems like a good idear..

    thank you so much!
     
  9. butzy

    butzy

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    I hear you, but it is actually not the paste thickening the curry, it is the cooking down of the coconut cream.

    @phatch actually beat me to the other answer:

    Make 2 batches or, what I would do:

    Start of with the batch you were going to make and make 1 seperate batch of just the cream and chili paste and use add that to your original batch to your taste and liking.
     
  10. butzy

    butzy

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    I forgot something:
    Most Thai coconut based curries are actually very thin.
    This really surprised me when I travelled in Thailand, as I was used to the thicker Indian and Indonesian curries.
    It was a bit of an eye-opener.
    Also most Thai curries are quick to make. The meat us normally very finely sliced and there is actually not much of it. But because it is so finely sliced, you still have the taste of meat in every bite! Musaman curry is a definite exception to this (and most likely came to Thailand via India).

    A lot of Indian curries are thick and one way of achieving that is by using quite a lot of onions. The onions are cooked for a long time and become oarte of the sauce.

    Thailand uses some shallots, but no onions, and not very much of them anyway
     
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  11. dr cook

    dr cook

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    In my quest to perfect the art of making thai curries I have another question that fits this topic perfectly!

    How do you guy's act when a recipe asks for: "2 cups (500ml) of coconutcream and 2 cups (500ml) of coconutmilk"?

    I use coconutmilk with a 17% fat always..

    What I do is the following: I use the cream of the top of two (or even three) cans coconutmilk as "the two cups (500ml) of coconutcream" called for. For the "two cups of coconutmilk" that is called for I use 500ml of coconutmilk that is shaken before the can is opened.

    This way of doing things, however, makes me use a lot of cans of coconutmilk; for every two cups (500ml) of coconutcream called for I use two or even three cans of coconutmilk to get it. However. If I do it differently I find the curry becomes to watery. I am just checking if I am doing the right thing here or is it my taste for strongly flavoured curries that makes me doing things this way?

    Butzy, you are right, thai curries are quite thin. Definately true. Green curries even thinner then red curries.

    How do you guys do this? Very curious :)

    thanks!
     
  12. french fries

    french fries

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    You can buy cans of coconut cream in most Asian groceries if you have one nearby.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
  13. foodpump

    foodpump

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    None of you have ever seen the little envelopes of dehydrated coconut powder in stores, next to the coconut cream?
     
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  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, I've used it before.
     
  15. french fries

    french fries

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    Never thought of using those. So are you suggesting you mix coconut powder with water and you have coconut water or cream (depending on the amount of water)? Is that hard to emulsify the powder with water? 
     
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  16. dr cook

    dr cook

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    Luckily I have several asian food stores around. I have used "santen". It's a block of coconutcream. You could say it's coconutcream but it has fillers inside. I don't like the taste at all.

    I have seen the powder in enveloppes, only I am afraid the taste will not be too good :(. Probably worse then santen to be honest.

    The cans of coconutcream I have (unfortunately) never seen. I must have a good look again, because it does sound perfect...

    thank you all for your input :)

    Going to have a look again at the asian food stores! (those ppl. must love me by now hehehe)
     
  17. french fries

    french fries

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    They have coconut cream at Trader Joe's but I much prefer the ones I found at asian stores or even at the supermarket like Thai Kitchen brand for example. Sometimes I can find the organic ones - not always. 
     
  18. foodpump

    foodpump

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    No its very simple to use. If coconut cream has 50% water, the dehydrated has "0". One way of thickening is to reduce the amounts of
    Iiquid. Pour a little of your cooking juices in a bowl, add the contents of one envelope, and add this baxk to your sauce. Its not a starch or a thickener, but it bulks up the sauce, and it tastes pretty good.

    Where this stuff really shines is in the pastry kitchen. I've used it in everything from mousses to buttercreams to ganaches.
     
  19. french fries

    french fries

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    Cool, thanks for the information @foodpump  I'm wondering how the result compares to coconut milk/cream? Would you use that for a curry? 
     
  20. butzy

    butzy

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    I can't believe I have missed the last entries on this thread....

    Santen is more used in the Indonesian/Malaysian kitchen than in Thai cooking.

    I quite like it, but use it sparingly.

    I have used the coconut powder as well. Easy to use, but I prefer the tins.

    Even here I can get coconut milk and cream in cans. Hard to believe that it would be difficult elsewhere/img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

    The best thing is fresh coconut milk, but even if I could get a good supply of coconuts, I would be loath to make it myself. Too much hard work.

    By the way, if anyone wants to know how to make coconut cream and milk out of grated coconut, please let me know.

    I have to admit that I tend to reduce the amount of coconut cream/milk in the different recipes as it tends to become just a bit too rich for my taste when using the full amount.

    @Dr Cook : You really need to try making Rendang on your coconut quest.

    In this dish meat is cooked in coconut milk and cream till it all evaporates and then the meat starts frying in the coconut fat. It's delicious.

    You can find some recipes here: http://asiancook.eu/indonesian/daging/26-in-coconut-milk-cooked-beef or http://rasamalaysia.com/beef-rendang-recipe-rendang-daging/