Thai Red Curry Rice with Peanut Coconut Sauce
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Rich, creamy, and super filling – this simple red curry is a great backpacking meal for your next trip into the backcountry.
When hiking at elevation, especially early or late in the season, the temperature can drop without warning. There have been times where we hike the whole day in shorts and short sleeves but are forced to throw on every layer we have the minute the sun goes down. But on cool nights, one way of the surest ways to lift our spirits is a warm bowl of spicy curry.
At home, curry is one of our all-time favorite cold weather comfort foods. It’s quick, easy, and can be modified to use whatever ingredients we have on hand. Now, making a great bowl of curry while backpacking does require a little more foresight than our free-wheeling weeknight dinner approach, but it still has all the same benefits. It’s fast and simple to cook out in the field and can be altered to accommodate an array of different special diets.
For the base grain, we’re big fans of Minute Rice instant rice. Both the white rice and brown rice versions cook incredibly fast (around 5 minutes), which saves fuel and therefore weight in our pack.
At home, we use curry paste, but out in the field, we use curry powder. For this particular recipe, we used Thai Spice from Spicely, but we have also experimented with McCormick’s Red Curry Powder and the Thai Style Red Curry Powder sold under Kroger’s Private Selection brand. Whatever spice blend you end up using, make sure you try it out before your trip to ensure that your meal has a spice level you’re comfortable with.
To make the curry sauce, we mix the curry powder together with some powdered coconut milk and a little bit of PB2 powdered peanut butter. It’s only three ingredients, but it produces a really complex sauce that’s creamy, spicy, and slightly nutty all at once.
After a long day on the trail, we think it’s important to incorporate some protein into our dinners to help our muscles repair overnight. For this recipe, we used freeze dried chicken, which we had purchased in bulk. However, TVP (textured vegetable protein) or soy curls would be excellent vegan options as well.
For this recipe we had the opportunity to partner with humangear. We’ve been using their smartly designed camping utensils for the past few years, but we recently got the chance to test out their new Flexibowl and GoToob+ liquid containers.
We really like that the FlexiBowl can fold in half for different meal sizes, turned inside out for easy cleaning, and squeezed to fit into any space inside our bear canister.
As for the GoToob+, they are the only liquid container we’ve tried that we have 100% confidence in. Trust us, all you need is one catastrophic cooking oil leak inside your pack or bear barrel to understand the importance of having a quality liquid container. We also really appreciate the extra peace of mind that the LoopLock cap provides. We’re using GoToobs now and we’re never going back!
So if you want to chase away the chills on your next backpacking trip, give this Thai Red Curry a try!
More backpacking recipes
↠ Backpacking Fried Rice
↠ Revamped Backpacking Ramen
↠ Dehydrated Red Lentil Chili
↠ Spicy One Pot Orzo Jambalaya
↠ other great backpacking food ideas
Thai Red Curry Rice with Peanut Coconut Sauce
- ½ cup minute rice
- ¼ cup dried veggies
- ¼ cup freeze dried chicken
- 3 tablespoons powdered coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry powder, more or less depending on spice preference!
- 1 tablespoon PB2 powdered peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
- ½ packet True Lime
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- At home: Add all the dry ingredients to a ziplock bag. Pack the oil in a GoToob+ bottle.
- At camp: Bring ¾ cup (6 oz) of water to a boil. Add the contents of the ziplock and the oil to the pot and stir. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until the rice, chicken, and veggies are rehydrated.
EQUIPMENT NEEDEDZiplock bag
Bowl + utenstils for serving
Hi! I was wondering if you’ve tried making this in bulk and then using a dehydrator to dehydrate it?
We haven’t tried making this as a dehydrator meal yet. Since it uses all dried ingredients (well, plus the oil added on trail), it’s easy enough for us to just measure out the ingredients into baggies and go. I’m sure it could work as a dehydrator meal, though! One consideration is that since fats don’t dehydrate well, you’d want to use the PB2 peanut butter powder (instead of “real” peanut butter) and maybe add in the powdered coconut milk after dehydrating?
If you try it, I’d be interested in hearing how it goes!
Where do you buy powdered coconut milk? Amazing!
It can be purchased on Amazon https://amzn.to/2J51KXr or at a local Asian market. Otherwise, you might be able to find it in the Asian section of some grocery stores. We usually keep an eye out for it and it’s really inconsistent which grocery stores carry it.
I cooked up a test batch at home, with a *few* (ahem) modifications, in advance of an upcoming hiking trip. Really good!… I used a packet of instant ramen noodles (without seasoning) instead of rice (two cups of water to cook, per the ramen cooking instructions) which made it a little soupy, but still good; added the chicken and veggies while the oil was coming to a boil to give them more time to rehydrate. Added an extra TBSP each of the peanut and coconut milk powder, plus about a teaspoon of dark brown sugar). Didn’t add any oil and it was fine! (In lieu of vegetable oil, trader Joe’s sells individual packets of coconut oil, which might be an easier carry, and add a bit more flavor, if you want to add some fat to replace all those hiking calories you burned :)).
Thanks for the recipe!
PS:If you can’t find the Thai curry powder,I bet a small amount of regular Thai red curry paste would keep and carry just fine for a few days on the trail, wrapped in some foil.
What kind of freeze dried veggies did you use? Was it a mix or just one kind?
We use Just Veggie mixed dehydrated vegetables. You can find it online or in-store at some REI and Natural Grocers.
This is a great backpacking meal! I used minute brown rice which takes longer to cook (I had to almost double the water) and used 1/4 c textured veg protein instead of chicken.
Hi! The serving size says 1 but I’m guessing it’s enough for 2 people? Thx!
It could be enough for two depending on appetites!
I have never seen thai curry powder in my grocery store – is it a common find? Or does it need to be ordered online?
It can be found in-store, but not all grocers carry it. Sometimes it’s in a very small package. We’ve stared at the spice section for 15 minutes before finally discovering it.
I made this recently for a family canoe camping trip. The flavours were delicious, however it was so spicy it blew our heads off. We all enjoy very spicy food (I eat the Samyang 2 x spicy noodles regularly without any issue) but this was incredibly spicy. The kids couldn’t eat it at all. I think it might have been that I used a different brand of Thai Curry Powder than you used when you developed the recipe. Can you tell me what brand of Thai Curry Powder that you use? I would like to try it again. Thanks 🙂
Thank you for your recipe. I tried it at home and it tasted amazing. This is my 4th year doing backpacking and i’m ready to prepare my own meals in the wilderness.
That’s awesome. To be honest, it took us a little while to build up the confidence to start making our own backpacking meals too. We always defaulted to store-bought freeze-dried meals because, well, that’s what backpackers eat, right? ???????? Once you start making your own, it can really be empowering. Like, you don’t need to rely on some company to feed you. You can feed yourself! ????
Yumm!!! I tried this recipe as written, except that I used only 1 tablespoon of the Thai red curry powder (“Curry Thai Seasoning” from Spicely), and it was perfect for someone who always asks for “not spicey” when ordering Thai food. Thanks for an amazing dish!
This is super tasty. I subbed for tofu to make it vegan. Will make again.
I brought this meal along on an overnight backpacking trip and have to tell you , everyone loved it. There were four of us so I quadrupled the recipe. There was actually more than enough for everyone to fill up and the flavors were delicious. We’re trying out recipes for our upcoming JMT hike and this is definitely going with us !
I recently made this with a few modifications because it was thrown together last minute for a trial hike (this was our first trip so it was a camping/hiking). I used canned coconut milk and real peanut butter. We all LOVED it. It makes a lot of food also. I tripled the recipe because there were 3 of us. I took a lot home!