This simple Thai curry recipe with sea scallops and garlic string beans is total comfort food! The homemade coconut curry sauce is made with a few simple ingredients, comes together quickly, and is healthy! With a total prep and cook time of 45 minutes, this simple Thai curry is just as good on a busy weeknight as it is for entertaining!
How to make simple Thai curry
There’s a few separate steps involved in making this simple Thai curry recipe, but your efforts will be greatly rewarded!
First, we make coconut rice! Combine jasmine rice, coconut milk, and olive oil together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and set a timer for 20 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. Fluff the coconut rice with a fork and set aside.
Next, dry the sea scallops. Check out this post for helpful tips on the how and why you absolutely should not skip this important step! It’ll also walk you through the steps to achieve perfect pan seared sea scallops.
Finally, cook the string beans (we’re pan frying them with garlic and ginger!) and make the simple Thai red curry sauce. Don’t be intimidated, it’s just a few simple ingredients (see below)!
Easy Thai red curry sauce – what you’ll need!
- Coconut milk — While you can use low fat, I highly recommend sticking with full fat coconut milk. It gives the curry sauce it’s signature, creamy texture that is so swoon worthy!
- Thai red curry paste — The not-so-secret ingredient that gives this sauce TONS of flavor with minimal effort! My favorite brand is Thai Kitchen; we can find it at most major grocery stores!
- Brown sugar — For sweetness and to counter the funky flavor from the fish sauce.
- Fish sauce — Don’t hate on fish sauce! It’ll add that umami flavor that works so well in Asian recipes.
- Ginger paste — Instead of fresh grated ginger, try ginger paste! Less work involved and the same great flavor!
- Soy sauce — We go light on the kosher salt because soy sauce adds that signature salty flavor and a deep, rich color.
- Rice wine vinegar
- Sesame oil — There is no replacement for the flavor that sesame oil or toasted sesame oil adds! And because the flavor is so concentrated, a little goes a very long way. You will add this to so many recipes!
- Lime juice — DO NOT LEAVE OUT! You need the acid from fresh lime juice!
The remaining ingredients are for the coconut rice and the protein:
- Jasmine rice (can of course substitute white rice or other rice)
- Coconut milk
- String beans
- Dry sea scallops
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Scallions, for serving
- Peanuts, crushed, for serving
Tips for making Thai curry
What is the difference between red curry, green curry, and yellow curry pastes?
At its core, the main difference between different curry pastes are the types of chilies used in each.
– Red curry paste (Nam Phrik Kaeng Phet) uses dried red peppers and have a bold, spicy flavor.
– Green curry paste (Nam Phrik Kaeng Khiao Wan) uses fresh green chilies and bright, vibrant, and HOTTT.
– Yellow curry paste (Nam Phrik Kaeng Kari) tend to be the sweetest (kind of remind me of Indian curries, which we adore!)
What you want to consider in selecting which to cook with is spice level. Green curry paste tends to be the spiciest of the three, thanks in part to the fresh, fiery green chilies. Red curry paste is somewhere in the middle, but still packs some heat, while yellow curry paste is the most mild of the three!
Regardless, if you’re using any of these curry pastes alongside coconut milk, the creaminess will cool them down quite a bit! Depending on the recipe you’re following, start with a little (1 tsp – 1 Tbsp) and increase from there.
This is not a one size fits all recipe! The beauty of becoming more confident in a kitchen is the ease with which you can adapt recipes. So for instance, if you want to make the Thai red curry sauce recipe, but switch out the protein, consider replacing sea scallops with one of the following: eggplant, chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, or other fish.
Want to bulk up the veggies? Add spinach, steamed broccoli, or serve with ridiculously fast and easy blistered shisito peppers on the side (ready in 10 min and addictive af!)
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For more Asian-inspired meals, check out the following:
Better than takeout spicy ramen noodles!
Easy weeknight Thai turkey meatballs with coconut curry sauce
Soy sauce marinated 7 minute eggs with sticky rice
Miso-marinated salmon noodle bowls
Easy seared sea scallops
Loving this slow cooker chicken and eggplant curry!
Simple Thai Curry with Scallops and String Beans
For the coconut rice
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the seared scallops
- 1 lb large sea scallops about 12-16 scallops, depending on size)
- 3 Tbsp canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil
- Kosher salt
For the coconut curry sauce
- 4 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil divided
- 1 lb string beans ends trimmed, cut into 2" pieces
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce low-sodium
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice plus 1 lime cut into wedges for serving
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- 4 scallions thinly sliced, for garnish
- ¼ cup peanuts crushed, for garnish
To make coconut rice
- Combine rice, ¾ cup of coconut milk, and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Set aside.
To dry sea scallops
- Meanwhile, sprinkle scallops generously with kosher salt on both sides, then place on a paper towel lined plate to dry for 15 minutes. Gently pat scallops dry on both sides, then season again lightly with ½ tsp kosher salt.
To make coconut curry sauce
- In a large sauté pan or wok, heat 2 Tbsp canola oil over high heat. Add string beans and cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes or until blistered and beginning to brown on all sides. Add minced garlic and ginger paste then cook 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits.
- Pour in remaining 1 can of coconut milk, then add red curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce, using the back of a spatula to throughly incorporate into the sauce. Add fresh lime juice, stir to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, adding more soy sauce or salt as needed. Reduce heat to a simmer while you cook the scallops.
- Heat a large griddle, grill pan, or heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Heat 3 Tbsp canola oil, then add scallops to the pan, being careful they do not touch. Cook for 1 minute per side, then remove.
- Spoon Thai curry sauce and string beans over coconut rice. Place 3-5 scallops on each bowl, then garnish with fresh basil, cilantro, scallions, and crushed peanuts. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
- Nutrition facts factor in all ingredients shown above, including rice.
- Can switch out red curry paste with green curry paste or yellow curry paste, but this will effect the flavor. Green curry paste is spicier. Yellow curry past is more mild.
- To make gluten-free, substitute gluten-free tamaro or coconut aminos in place of traditional soy sauce.
- In place of jasmine rice or white rice, you can substitute with brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice. However, cauli rice will NOT absorb coconut milk and should be served steamed or sautéed.
- To try other proteins, consider the following: chicken, beef, shrimp, eggplant, tofu, or other fish
- Suggested vegetables to add on or replace string beans: spinach, eggplant, steamed broccoli, or blistered shisito peppers.