The curry recipes on this website will produce a fairly mild curry without an oil skim on the surface. If you like a strong curry then you are looking at about a quarter of a jar of paste to one 400ml can of our coconut milk (which is 18% coconut oil). If you like it spicy then you will need chillies as well, the paste will add a certain amount of hotness but the paste is primarily for flavour – look at fresh or dried chillies for controlling the hotness.
If you do not mind having an oil skim then you can make a more intense flavour by frying off the paste in about 100ml of coconut milk before you continue on with the recipe – this way the milk splits (demulsifies) and the resultant curry is much more aromatic – in Thailand whether to fry the paste off first or add it to boiling coconut milk is simply a matter of preference.
Finally please use a good quality Nam Plaa / Fish Sauce. This product is key to achieving the best flavour as it is the ‘seasoning’ of Thai cooking. Add to taste, just like you would salt and pepper, it really is the ingredient ‘X’ of Thai cooking, made from 18 month fermentation of anchovies. Start with a couple of teaspoons and then add by the teaspoon until you get the right level of ‘salty’.
The only risk you have to watch out for is splitting all of your coconut milk, which makes the coconut milk look like it has ‘curdled’. To avoid this be prepared to stir frequently until you get your coconut milk up to the boil and, if possible, us a round bottomed pan like a wok rather than a square bottomed saucepan – though if you are prepared to stir quite a bit this shouldn’t matter.
If you are seeking perfection look out for palm sugar (really caramelly flavour – balances the chillies) and use some kaffir lime leaves and chop up some fresh lemongrass.