Chef's Recipes

David Thompson's chicken stir-fried with red curry, green peppercorns and holy basil

Not the stir-fry you would expect, with fiery red curry paste, green peppercorns and holy basil forming a rich curry.

By David Thompson
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 25 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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David Thompson's chicken stir-fried with red curry, green peppercorns and holy basil
"Chop the bird into pieces - on the bone is even better," says Long Chim and Nahm chef David Thompson. "Legs and wings are the best cuts to use. Fry and brown the chicken well before adding the paste - it will give the dish a more rounded flavour and an attractive colour. The red curry paste is the only curry paste I would cook in a wok. I like to sneak a little pork fat into the mix for a richer curry."


  • 60 ml melted lard, chicken fat or white sesame oil (¼ cup)
  • 2-3 chicken Marylands (about 600gm-800gm), cut through the bone into 3cm-4cm pieces
  • 45 ml fish sauce, or to taste
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Pinch of ground dry-roasted coriander seeds (see note)
  • 1 tsp light palm sugar, crushed
  • Chopped green chilli, thinly sliced garlic and fish sauce, to serve
  • Green peppercorn sprigs, picked (see note), and steamed rice, to serve
Red curry paste
  • 25 gm (about 15) long dried red chillies, halved, seeds removed, soaked in hot water for 30-40 minutes
  • 2 tbsp sliced lemongrass (white part only)
  • 2 tsp coarsely chopped, peeled galangal
  • ½ tsp finely grated kaffir lime rind (see note)
  • 1-2 red shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 Thai garlic cloves, crushed (see note)
  • ½ tsp gapi (see note)
  • Large pinch of ground dry-roasted
  • coriander seeds (see note)
  • Pinch of ground dry-roasted cumin seeds, (see note)
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
Garlic and chilli paste
  • 12 Thai garlic cloves
  • 5 gm piece grachai (see note), plus extra, thinly sliced to serve
  • 3 small Thai scud chillies (see note)
  • Pinch of holy basil buds, plus holy basil leaves to serve (see note)
  • ½ kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped, plus extra leaves torn to serve


  • 1
    For red curry paste, drain chillies and coarsely chop, then pound to fine paste with a pinch of salt with a mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, pounding to a paste before adding the next.
  • 2
    For garlic paste, coarsely pound ingredients with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  • 3
    Heat fat or oil in a wok over medium-high heat until hot, add chicken and stir-fry until coloured and aromatic (5-7 minutes). Add garlic paste and fry until golden (1-2 minutes). Season with 2 tbsp fish sauce and simmer for a few moments while turning and coating the chicken. Add 60gm red curry paste (remaining will keep refrigerated for a week) and simmer over low heat until reduced (1-2 minutes). Add extra torn kaffir lime leaves, chilli powder and ground coriander, then season to taste with palm sugar and fish sauce. Add 250ml water and simmer, adding more wateras necessary, until chicken is cooked, and curry sauce is thick, dry, and tastes rich and spicy, with quite a lot of oil on the surface (15-20 minutes).
  • 4
    Combine chopped chilli, garlic and remaining fish sauce to taste and serve alongside stir-fried chicken garnished with extra grachai, green peppercorns and holy basil leaves, and with steamed rice.


Thai garlic is smaller and sweeter than other varieties of garlic, and is available from Thai food stores. If it’s unavailable, substitute small garlic cloves. Dry-roast whole seeds, then grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.To dry-roast spices, cook the spices in a dry pan, stirring continuously over medium-high heat until they’re fragrant. The cooking time varies depending on the spices used. Peppercorn sprigs, kaffir limes, gapi (Thai shrimp paste), grachai (Thai wild ginger), scud chillies and holy basil are all available from Thai grocers.
Drink Suggestion: Young demi-sec Vouvray, such as Domaine Huet. Drink suggestion by Greg Plowes