People who’ve been reading this blog may know that I’m sort of a sucker for the Trader Joe’s food display. Without fail, I come home from that place with one or two items I never even dreamed of purchasing, and this past Tuesday was no exception. For some reason, my eye caught a benign jar of “Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce,” and within seconds I was eagerly stuffing it into my plastic basket. I don’t know why, really. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a little Thai kick recently. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of curry. Or maybe it’s just because I was hungry and impressionable. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, the promise of quick and simple Thai food emanating from my very own kitchen was too exciting for me to resist, and so I purchased the seductive little jar and brought it home for what would hopefully be a culinary trip to the depths of Bankok. A few photos after the jump…

First things first, I knew that as delicious as the description on the packaging made it seem, I knew I would not be able to get restaurant-style curry from a jar. It’s just not something that can happen. So, to keep things flavorful, I decided to go the Semi-Homemade route and add some fresh elements to my otherwise store-bought dinner. I did not, however, follow in the tradition of Sandra Lee and add something completely awful and antithetical to the preparations (I imagine she would have suggested cool whip and radishes to spruce up the curry). Speaking of Sandra Lee, check out this random clip of her. I just love the way she comes rushing at her pantry door so quickly that it looks like she damn near runs into it:

Anyway, I drizzled some olive oil in a skillet, warmed it up, and added shallots — all without measuring, which is a BIG deal for me. Eyeballing and me do not go well together (mostly in that I have no ability to properly estimate anything — size, weight, length, amount. It’s really horrifying). While the shallots sauteed, I seasoned and then chopped up a chicken breast, and then threw that in the skillet (along with some red pepper flakes). Again, continued success on all fronts. At this point, however, I had been so excited at the fact that I was cooking something without even a recipe that I totally forgot to take pictures of the process, thus making this post far less visually interesting than I would have wanted.
Well, the chicken cooked pretty quickly, and soon it was time to add the green curry sauce. It was a bit thinner than I had expected, and the color was nothing particularly entrancing. To be honest, it looked like it may or may not have been emitted from Linda Blair’s mouth at some point in the recent past. Nevertheless, it smelled nice; so I pressed forward with the stolid confidence of only the world’s top Michelin-anointed chefs.

This dish will win no points for presentation.

Anyway, once I had deemed that the simmer sauce had indeed simmered enough, I prepared myself a bowl of jasmine rice (which had been cooking away in the rice cooker), and poured the homemade curry on top of it:


At last it was time to try my semi-homemade creation. The verdict was… pretty good! Not excellent, and certainly not restaurant caliber by any means, but still a thoroughly flavorful dish that I was quite happy to consume. I probably put in too much olive oil to saute the shallots, but that was slightly accidental (my drizzling skills are not top notch, and there was an unfortunate surge of oil at one point). I will have to say that adding the shallots, pepper and garlic (I forgot to mention I added a minced clove at one point) were essential to the success. Without them, the curry sauce may have been a bit too bland.
Nevertheless, the meal turned out to be surprisingly hearty (thanks to all the rice, which took to the sauce beautifully). Will I make it again? Well, I have to. I have half a jar left. But maybe next time, I’ll use shrimp… Oh, what a world of possibilities!
Anyone else ever tried this sauce? Or make curry from scratch? Recommendations to enhance the dish?

24 replies on “ADVENTURES IN THAI FOOD: Trader Joe's Edition”

  1. Trader Joe’s has a plethora of sauces, yet I’ve never tried their curry. Looks good.
    They make a champagne salad dressing that is to die for!
    I’m sad we didn’t get a picture of your retro stove.

  2. Maybe you should add some diced red bell pepper and sprinkle on some cilantro or basil… Was it spicy?
    I have added mango to Thai simmer sauces before too.

  3. I’ve had that same jar of TJ curry for over a year now… not sure what my intentions were when I initially purchased it! Nice colors and I love elephants — what can I say, I’m a sucker for packaging.
    Your post may be the motivation I’ve needed to unleash my inner Thai. Thanks B-Side!

  4. The red and yellow curries are pretty bomb as well, B-side. And if you ever want to impress company, but have no time to prepare, may I also recommend the frozen spinach/artichoke dip from TJ’s.
    PS- I’ve been a fan of yours since the TVgasm days. You rock. LagunaConsultant just wasn’t as funny 🙂

  5. B-Side, I love your “Adventures in Food”, but that picture of it cooking looked like you were simmering a bit of baby diarrhea for dinner.
    I am a TOTAL impulse buyer when I go to Trader Joes. I try not to go there when I’m hungry….it’s always my downfall.

  6. If you want to thicken the sauce, melt 2-3 tbsps of butter, then add some flour until you get a thin little paste going. You’ll have to face your fear of eyeballing it, but you want it to be about the consistency of a drippy vanilla shake. Stir it continuously and cook it for about 2 minutes, then add in your curry sauce. However, your flour paste is going to make the dish a little blander so I would add in a little chopped jalapeno and maybe a dash of curry powder.
    If all that eyeballing is too scary, then the Sandra Lee thing to do would be to use half a can of cream of chicken soup. Put it in after the chicken is cooked and stir it up, then add the curry sauce a little bit at a time so it is easy to blend it into the condensed soup. You should still add in the jalapenos and maybe even a little dollop of sour cream.
    Sounds straight out of “Bankok” to me!

  7. Trader Joes FTW! I actually made a fairly decent pizza using TJ pizza dough and pizza sauce. Haven’t tried the curry just yet… but it’s always great finding new stuff at Trader Joes.

  8. Strangely enough, I enjoy these food blogs as much as the Hills recaps. I know, I don’t understand it either. Whenever I see you’ve reviewed a restaurant or a new dish, I’m strangely entranced. Please, keep it up 🙂

  9. LOL Firecat (post#3) Hell’s Kitchen yes. Top Chef… notsomuch. (I say that with love B-Side.)
    I am really impressed that you, B-Side, a single white guy, has a rice cooker and cook jasmine rice!

  10. I’ve made a few different curry recipes to various levels of success. My favourite is a thai lentil coconut curry from this recipe book my mom got me. I actually just found it online too: http://www.foodreference.com/html/rlentil-ccurry-730.html.
    It’s really delicious, but the recipe is HUGE, so unless you’re cooking for at least 6, halve it… or be ready to eat it for a few days straight.

  11. Re: Post#16
    Oh it all makes sense now! I’m glad for your roomie then. Jasmine rice from a rice cooker is just the best.

  12. Ever notice the striking resemblance between Sandra Lee & Heidi Montag? Scary…

  13. NikiSpice:
    (In my best Kristen-Wiig-as-the-woman-who-loves-surprise-parties-voice) YESSS!

  14. We recently tried the TJ’s Thai Green Curry simmer sauce and I loved it! We actually made a weird Indian/Thai meal last week. The two main dishes were TJ’s Curry Simmer Sauce (red with Indian spices) with lots of chicken and a bit of onions & cauliflower and TJ’s Thai Green Curry simmer sauce with lots of cauliflower, coarsely sliced green pepper, coarsely sliced onions and a bit of chicken. We also had TJ’s frozen Channa Masala (chick peas in a curry) and warmed TJ’s frozen Naan with Garlic and spices. All with rice. I want that meal again. Everything was spicy and tasty. I especially enjoyed the extreme contrast of the Indian curries with the limey(?) tang of the Green Thai curry. And I thought the Green Thai curry was perfect for a mostly-vegetable dish because green looks more appetizing on vegetables. Sorry if anyone is aghast at mixing cuisines but it was an immensely satisfying meal with enough left over to enjoy it again 2 days later.

  15. For Thai Cookery
    In order to achieve the greatest taste sensation from your Thai cooking, be sure to start with fresh ingredients. Dried and packaged lemongrass, for instance, is hardly worth comparing to the fresh version (fresh lemongrass is available in all Asian shops and markets).

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