hung-lay curry

hung-lay curry

This is the hubs’ favorite Thai curry. Yes, there is more to Thai curries than red or green – there is hung-lay curry! We first encountered this curry at the Thai grocer in Singapore. We had made a trip to the famous Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road in Singapore as we were passing through the area. We entered the Thai grocery store there and decided to buy a couple of spice and curry packs to bring back to the US. We came across Hung-Lay curry paste and both wondered what it was. We decided to buy a pack to try and there was no turning back after. We made the hung-lay curry in the US and it was so good!

Hung-lay curry is unlike any normal red or green Thai curry. It has a unique combination of sour and spicy and doesn’t have any coconut milk in it. The combination of sweet bean sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind juice also gives the curry a unique flavor. You can also add peanuts to it. We found that it goes extremely well with Burmese laphet and recently discovered that hung-lay curry has its roots in Burmese cooking. As the “Hung-Lay Curry Paste” was extremely expensive on, I scoured the internet for a recipe I could use.

This recipe is from a supposedly famous Thai restaurant in Northern Thailand (where hung-lay curry is popular and commonly found). You can get most of the ingredients easily here in the US. For the curry paste, you can either make your own with the ingredients listed or use a pang or red curry paste. I use a red curry paste that is easy to find in most Asian grocers here in the US. I usually buy the Mae Ploy brand. You can get it on

Hung-Lay Curry

(taken from here)


For the curry paste:

  • 1 tablespoon diced galanga
  • 2 tablespoons diced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sliced kaffir lime rind or leaves
  • 6 whole seeded dried chillies (soaked in warm water to rehydrate for an hour)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 whole small shallots
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon star anise powder
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

For the meat and marinade:

  • 2 pounds chicken, pork, beef or lamb (cut into 1-inch cubes) (You want to use a cut that has a good amount of fat so the meat will not be too dry. I usually use pork shoulder/butt)
  • 1/4 cup curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons sweet black bean sauce

Other ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1/4 cup red/panang curry paste or paste made above
  • 2-3 cups water or vegetable stock (I use water)
  • 3/4 cup tamarind juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons palm sugar (if you don’t have palm sugar, you can use brown sugar or honey)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (I would start with 3 tablespoons first then add more if needed)
  • 1 cup unsalted raw peanuts (optional)
  • 16 cloves of small pickled garlic or regular garlic (I have used both and prefer pickled garlic as it adds a nice crunch and flavor to the curry. You can find pickled garlic in some Asian grocers)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced ginger


  1. If you are making the curry paste, pound all the curry paste ingredients using a mortar and pestle or place in a food processor and blend till it becomes a paste.
  2. Marinate the meat with all the marinade ingredients for about 20 minutes. Ensure the meat is evenly coated with the ingredients.
  3. To cook the curry: Heat oil in pot, add the curry paste and stir for a minute or so till you can see the red oil from the curry paste.
  4. Add the marinated meat and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour uncovered till meat is soft and tender.
  6. Season with additional fish sauce or palm sugar to taste.
  7. Serve with steaming hot rice. This curry goes very well with Burmese tea leaf salad (laphet).

2 thoughts on “hung-lay curry

  1. Lea says:

    I found your site/recipe while searching for how to use the Hung Lay paste that I bought impulse from Thai Grocer online – thought I would let you know, it is not expensive there – less than $6 and they occasionally have shipping specials


    • joylania says:

      Thanks Lea for the tip! I have found though that making the hung lay curry using just the red curry paste (which can be used for other curries) is just as good :D. The ingredients in both curry pastes are similar too.


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