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Thai Bamboo Shoot Curry Recipe (Gaeng Phed Nor Mai)

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This Thai bamboo shoot curry recipe, or gaeng phed nor mai, is irresistibly creamy and perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. Make it with my homemade red curry paste or opt for store-bought if you’re pressed for time, it’ll be delicious either way. Just pair it with steamed jasmine rice for the ultimate comfort food at home!

Thai bamboo shoot curry with beef and chilies served in a coconut shell.

This Thai red curry bamboo shoots is spicy, if you’d rather try something mild, head over to one of these milder curries: Thai beef panang curry recipe, gang garee curry recipe (Thai yellow curry), and Thai massaman chicken curry.

What is bamboo shoot curry

Bamboo shoot curry is a traditional Thai curry featuring tender bamboo shoots in a spicy and creamy red coconut curry sauce. It’s a creamy dish with a balance of heat and sweetness, often served with jasmine rice.

gaeng phed nor mai recipe

This is an easy curry recipe that’s totally doable for any home cook.

With my homemade Thai red curry paste – made of shrimp paste, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime zest – by your side, you can transform a simple pot of coconut milk into a creamy wonder. If you’re pressed for time, a store-bought paste will still get you an amazing Thai curry.

Fresh Thai bamboo shoots packaged in plastic.
In Northeastern Thailand, bamboo shoots are readily available at food markets.

It’s a spicy beef and bamboo shoots curry, but this recipe is as customizable as it can be. Feel free to switch up the protein and turn up the heat. The choices are endless, and I’m here to walk you through each step.

The traditional method of separating the coconut oil is the secret to a rich, bold, and authentic Thai curry. It’s a technique that brings out the best flavors in both the curry paste and the coconut milk. As always, I’m here to share the secrets of Thai cooking with you.

Close-up of red Thai bamboo curry.

Bamboo shoots are the star of this curry, adding a tender crunch, and they’re just perfect for soaking up all that delicious red curry sauce. You can even add more veggies. The creamy coconut sauce is versatile enough to drench anything you have on hand.

And don’t forget, a side of jasmine rice is non-negotiable. You’ll want to scoop up every bit of that spicy, saucy goodness.

What are bamboo shoots

Bamboo shoots are the edible young shoots of the bamboo plant, often used in Asian cuisine for their crisp texture and sweet, earthy flavor. They’re typically used in stir-fries, soups, and curries.

Two raw bamboo shoots lying on a banana leaf.
Raw bamboo shoots I purchased at the market.

Bamboo shoots are healthy and low in calories yet rich in dietary fiber, promoting digestion and heart health. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

The taste of bamboo shoots is mildly sweet and earthy with a crisp, crunchy texture. Canned bamboo shoots are readily available at Asian grocery stores and in the international aisle of supermarkets.

Gaeng phed nor mai, Thai bamboo curry, served in a coconut shell.

In Thailand, they are incredibly popular in the Isan cuisine, the Northeastern part of Thailand. My grandmother’s Thai bamboo soup is one of my favorite bamboo shoots recipe, and this gai pad nor mai is perfect for lovers of spicy Thai food.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for Thai bamboo curry labeled: coconut milk, beef, bamboo shoots, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil, palm sugar, fish sauce, and red curry paste.
  • Beef – Unlike the braising and slow-cooking method used in my recipe for gaeng massaman neua, this beef bamboo shoots curry comes together quickly, making it ideal for weeknight dinners. It’s important to opt for a tender cut of beef that cooks quickly and remains tender, like sirloin and tenderloin. Slice the beef thinly against the grain.
  • Thai red curry paste – You can either use my homemade paste or store-bought. For store-bought, choose Mae Ploy or Maesri.
  • Coconut milk – Full-fat coconut milk is the base of most Thai curries, adding a creamy, sweet base that balances the flavors. A good brand is Aroy-D.
  • Palm sugar – A touch of palm sugar is essential for rounding out the spicy and savory notes in the red curry sauce. It has a caramel-like sweetness, distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Fish sauce – This staple of Thai cuisine is full of umami and salty flavors. A good brand is Megachef, it’s not as salty as most brands.
  • Sweet basil (horapa) – Sweet basil, also used in my pad horapa recipe, adds a fresh, peppery flavor that brightens up your spicy bamboo shoots curry.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – Also known as makrut lime leaves, they infuse the curry with a citrusy fragrance that’s irreplaceable. If you can’t find fresh leaves, you can source dried kaffir lime leaves at an Asian grocery store or at Asian markets.
  • Prik chi fa – Prik chi fa are Thai chilies with a moderate amount of heat and lots of chili flavor.
  • Bamboo shoots – A staple in Thai curries, bamboo shoots add a crunchy texture and a sweet, earthy note.

Cooking instructions

If you have fresh bamboo shoots, boil the peeled and sliced shoots in water with a dash of sugar for about 20 minutes to remove any bitterness before adding them to your dish.

Reduced coconut milk in a wok.

Step 1: Add 3.40 fl oz/100ml of your coconut milk in a wok over medium heat. Simmer until the sides start to bubble. The coconut oil will naturally separate and rise to the surface.

Red curry paste with coconut milk simmering in a wok.

Step 2: Once you see the coconut oil create a separate layer, stir in your red curry paste. Mix well with the coconut milk and follow up with your remaining milk, mix well once more.

Thai bamboo shoots curry cooking process in wok.

Step 3: Add sliced beef, bamboo shoots, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Cook until the beef is done and make sure the palm sugar is fully dissolved.

Thai bamboo shoots curry simmering in wok.

Step 4: Turn off the heat and stir in your sliced chilies, sweet basil, and kaffir lime leaves. Serve immediately with rice. Enjoy!

Kitchen tools

  • Mortar and pestle or food processor for making your own curry paste
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Ladle for serving
  • Large wok or pot

Bamboo curry recipe customizations

Balance the flavors: Taste-test and adjust seasonings if needed. Some store-bought curry pastes are saltier and spicier than others, so it’s important to adjust the flavors to your taste.

Adjust the heat: Increase or reduce the number of chilies to adjust the spice. Alternatively, you can use spicy chilies like Thai bird’s eye chilies.

Curry paste: Use my Thai green curry paste for a variation.

Vegetables: Baby corn, zucchini, bell peppers, snap pas, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or mushrooms can be added. Simply adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Proteins: Beef can be substituted with chicken (chicken thighs or breast), pork, tofu, or seafood like shrimp. For a version with fish, try my Thai red curry fish.

How to serve red curry bamboo shoots

Serve your curry with a side of steamed rice to soak up the spicy sauce and balance the heat. A typical side in Southern Thailand is Thai roti, crusty bread. Feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves and sliced red chilies.

How to store gaeng phed nor mai

Allow your gaeng phed nor mai leftovers to cool to room temperature and transfer it into an airtight container. Store the curry in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freezing: Thai curries are perfect for making ahead of time. Simply use freezer-safe bags or containers and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Reheat: Reheat your bamboo curry over medium heat on the stove top, stirring occasionally.

Frequently asked questions

How can I make this vegetarian?

Replace beef with tofu or mixed vegetables, and use soy sauce instead of fish sauce or a vegetarian fish sauce alternative.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, if you ensure your store-bought red curry paste and fish sauce are gluten-free.

Can I use canned bamboo shoots for this recipe?

Yes, canned bamboo shoots are perfect and should be rinsed before use to remove any excess brine.

Authentic Thai curry recipes

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Thai Bamboo Shoot Curry Recipe (Gaeng Phed Nor Mai)

Thai bamboo shoot curry with beef and vegetables in a coconut shell.
Easy Thai bamboo shoots curry recipe, or gaeng phed nor mai. Serve with rice for dinner!
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 13.5 fluid ounces coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 7 ounces beef see notes
  • 7 ounces bamboo shoots see notes
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 prik chi fa
  • 0.7 ounces sweet basil

Instructions

  • Add 3.40 fl oz/100ml of your coconut milk in a wok over medium heat. Simmer until the sides start to bubble. The coconut oil will naturally separate and rise to the surface.
  • Once you see the coconut oil create a separate layer, stir in your red curry paste. Mix well with the coconut milk and follow up with your remaining milk, mix well once more.
  • Add sliced beef, bamboo shoots, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Cook until the beef is done and make sure the palm sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in your sliced chilies, sweet basil, and kaffir lime leaves. Serve immediately with rice. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Balance the flavors: Taste-test and adjust seasonings if needed. Some store-bought curry pastes are saltier and spicier than others, so it's important to adjust the flavors to your taste.
  • Thai red curry paste: You can either use my homemade paste or store-bought. For store-bought, choose Mae Ploy or Maesri.
  • Beef: Unlike the braising and slow-cooking method used in my recipe for gaeng massaman neua, this beef bamboo shoots curry comes together quickly, making it ideal for weeknight dinners. It's important to opt for a tender cut of beef that cooks quickly and remains tender, like sirloin and tenderloin. Slice the beef thinly against the grain.
  • Bamboo shoots: If you have fresh bamboo shoots, boil the peeled and sliced shoots in water with a dash of sugar for about 20 minutes to remove any bitterness before adding them to your dish. 

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