Thai green fish curry is a delicious Thai curry dish consisting of cod pieces simmered in a delicious coconut curry sauce. The delicious herbs and spices from the curry mixed with the delicate melt in your mouth cod and paired for rice is a mouthwatering combo. While living in Thailand for a month, I was able to take a cooking class at the Blue Elephant cooking school, where I learned how to make yummy traditional Thai curries. While its undeniably delicious, is green curry healthy?
Green curry is a very unhealthy dish due to its high fat content from the coconut milk and heavy usage of carbs from the rice – a serving of green curry can run up to 700 calories, largely due to the fat content from coconut milk, which is a whopping 12 grams of fat per serving, and carbs from the rice that the curry is eaten with.
Thankfully, I’ve figured out a way to make a healthy and low calorie Thai green fish curry recipe using a couple key ingredient swaps to make this a low fat curry.
Thai Green Curry Calories and Nutrition - How To Make It Healthy
In this healthy Thai green curry recipe, I used key ingredients swaps to make this a more macro friendly and calorie conscious dish. Here are some key tweaks I made:
- Fish – White fish is naturally a lean protein source. I opted for cod because it has the best consistency, but any other white fish would work well too
- Coconut Milk – Use light coconut milk - a serving of light milk is 45 calories vs 120 calories from normal coconut milk due to less fat content as the light version has less coconut cream.
- Portion sugar and seasonings mindfully – Used 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. Both are essential to the curry flavor and 1 teaspoon of sugar is only 15 calories of sugar.
- Portion the rice – I used 1 serving of brown rice at 160 calories
- Choose vegetables mindfully – While many recipes will include potatoes, I omitted it given its high protein and calorie content. Stick to low calorie veggies like onions, carrots, and mushrooms.
- Use cooking spray – Instead of traditional oil for everything that was sautéd or fried. 1 tablespoon of olive oil adds a whopping 120 calories to the dish, whereas cooking spray is 0 calories.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the Thai green curry fish recipe, you may refer to the table below:
- Thai Crab Curry
- Butternut Squash Curry
- Thai Yellow Chicken Curry
- Chinese Curry Chicken Noodles
- Healthy Thai Food
Rice – I use 1 serving of brown rice. White rice and jasmine rice work well too.
Fish – I used cod fillet, as it had the most optimal flakey and moist texture. You can also use other types of white fish if cod is not available.
Thai Green Curry Paste – I made green curry paste from scratch using a blender. Green curry paste is a mixture of lemongrass, shrimp paste, coriander, cumin, galangal, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, green chilis, cilantro, and turmeric.
Fresh ingredients work best here for an authentic flavor, but given how scarce these ingredients are, you can also use dried versions. You can also use store bought Thai curry paste for a shortcut – the mae ploy brand is a favorite among home cooks.
Galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and shrimp paste may be more specialized ingredients that are. harder to find. For ingredient substitutions for harder to find curry ingredients, refer the the substitutions section below.
Chilis – Green Thai Chilis are traditionally the main chili ingredient used to make green curry paste, giving it the vibrant green color. However, given the extreme spiciness of green Thai chilis and the fact that they're harder to find in US grocery stores, I substituted it with a jalapeño and a bunch of cilantro. If you prefer a more intense spice, you can add more Thai chilis and/or use serrano peppers.
Coconut Milk – Used 1 serving of light coconut milk - used warm water to deglaze as needed.
Veggies – I used carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Bell peppers, bamboo shoots, chili peppers, and potatoes are also popular choices.
Seasonings – The curry sauce is often seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to give it a balanced flavor. Palm sugar is what's traditionally used but both brown sugar and white sugar also work.
Step By Step Instructions
Prepare the rice – Ideally make the rice beforehand so that you can put the curry together when everything is done.
Make the curry paste – Gather the green curry paste ingredients together. Slice the lower half of the lemongrass into small slices until the purple rings disappear. Crush the garlic with the back of your knife and de-stem the kaffir lime leaf. Add all the curry paste ingredients together in the food processor and add about ¼ cup water (or enough to help the paste form). Grind until the paste has reached a paste-like consistency.
Prepare the vegetables – Cut the carrots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
Sauté the curry paste – Use cooking spray and spray a skillet, then sauté the curry paste along with the garlic and onions.
Add the coconut milk – Turn the stove to low heat and add in coconut milk. High heat will make the milk evaporate very fast. If that happens, you can deglaze the sauce with water.
Cook the veggies and fish – Add the vegetables and cook until they soften, about 3-5 minutes. Then add the cod pieces in a single layer and cook for 1-2 minutes each side, or until cooked thoroughly.
Season to taste – Season the curry sauce with fish sauce and sugar. Taste and adjust if needed.
Serve and enjoy – Garnish with cilantro and chili flakes if desired and serve with rice, and enjoy your delicious green curry recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Thai green curry is very hot given the usage of green chilis in making the curry paste. Compared to other types of Thai curries, such as yellow curry and red curry, green curry can be the most spicy if its actually made out of green Thai chilis. However, many Thai restaurants also use cilantro and jalapeños to make the curry paste, making the spice level much more manageable.
The green in Thai green curry is from the green chilis that are used to make the curry paste. Traditionally, green Thai chilis are used, but jalapeños, serrano peppers, and a mixture of cilantro are also used to make a less spicy curry paste.
Yes, green curry is good for you given the wide variety of nutrient packed herbs and the balanced macronutrients of the fish, carbs, and fats from the coconut milk that make it a well-balanced dish. Just use the ingredient swaps in this recipe to make the dish low fat.
Instead of rice, Thai green curry would also be delicious over a bed of rice noodles - curry is commonly served with noodles in Thailand too.
Water to deglaze as needed – If the coconut milk seems to be evaporating too much, make sure the heat is lowered and deglaze the pan with water as needed
Add Water To Help Form Paste – Making curry paste in a blender can be harder without a liquid agent - add water while making it to help form the paste. I added about ¼ cup.
Kaffir Lime Leaf Stem – Be sure to destem the kaffir lime leaves - the stem has a bitter flavor that can be unpleasant. To destem, fold the leave in half and cut off the stem.
How to use lemongrass – For the curry paste, we will use the lower white half of the lemongrass stalk. Slice the lemongrass widthwise, until the purple rings begin to disappear.
Substitutions and Variations
Galangal sub – Galangal is a relatively harder to find herb. I was able to find it at HMart as well as my local asian markets. You can order dried galangal online or substitute by using ginger and a spritz of lemon juice.
Kaffir Lime Leaves – Kaffir lime leaves are also a harder to find herb. I've also been able to find it at HMart as well as my local Vietnamese grocery store, or find dried kaffir lime leaves online. If you cannot find it, you can just omit it.
Adjust spiciness – Use no chilis for no spice, 1 Thai chili for a mild spice, and 2-3 chilis for a medium to heavier spice.
Switch up the rice with Brown rice, white rice, mixed grain rice or cauliflower rice – Health wise, they are all similar in calories and macros, with mixed grain rice slightly higher in calories (190 calories vs 160 calories for one serving). Cauliflower rice is a good option for those who prefer a low carb diet.
Switch up the protein – Green curry sauce would also go well with prawns or skinless chicken meat for an equally delicious and healthy dish.
Make it without coconut milk – You can skip the coconut milk altogether – check out my Thai crab curry recipe to see how I did this.
Curry Paste – Homemade curry paste is great to make ahead and store. You can keep it in a closed glass container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Alternatively, you can store it in ice cube trays and freeze it up for up to 3 months.
Overall Dish – After you've made the dish with the coconut milk and fish, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Low Calorie Thai Green Fish Curry (Is Green Curry Healthy?)
- 1 Blender
Fish Curry Components
- 4 oz Cod Fillet
- ¼ Carrot (Sliced)
- 2 Mushrooms (Sliced)
- ⅓ cup Light coconut milk
- ¼ cup Brown rice (Uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- Cilantro or Thai Basil (For Garnish)
Green Curry Paste
- ½ stalk Lemongrass
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 slice Ginger
- 1 slice Galangal
- ¼ Shallot
- 1-2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 1-2 Thai Chilis
- 1 Jalapeno (Serrano Peppers work too for a stronger spice)
- 1 cup Cilantro
- 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon Shrimp paste
- ¼ teaspoon White Pepper
- Start by making the rice beforehand so that you can put the curry together when everything is done.
- Gather the green curry paste ingredients together. Slice the lower half of the lemongrass into small slices until the purple rings disappear. Crush the garlic with the back of your knife and de-stem the kaffir lime leaf. Add all the curry paste ingredients together in the food processor and add about ¼ cup water (or enough to help the paste form). Grind until the paste has reached a paste-like consistency.
- Cut the carrots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
- Use cooking spray and spray a skillet, then sauté the curry paste along with the garlic and onions.
- Turn the stove to low heat and add in coconut milk. High heat will make the milk evaporate very fast. If that happens, you can deglaze the sauce with water.
- Add the vegetables and cook until they soften, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cod pieces in a single layer and cook for 1-2 minutes each side, or until cooked thoroughly.
- Season the curry sauce with fish sauce and sugar. Taste and adjust if needed.
- Garnish with cilantro and chili flakes if desired and serve with rice, and enjoy your delicious green fish curry recipe.
This curry is so fresh - and perfectly spiced!