Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 20 seconds. Take the pan off of the heat and stir in the snap peas, shallots, pepper, coconut milk, lime leaves (if using), sugar, and 1 cup water. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken, bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the basil, fish sauce, and lime juice. Let rest off the heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste with fish sauce or salt.
To serve 1 vegetarian and 3 meat-lovers: After stirring in the vegetables, coconut milk, lime leaves, and water, transfer about 1 cup of the cury mixture to a 2-quart saucepan. To this smaller pan, add 4 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1/4 cup of the basil, and 1 tsp. of the lime juice.
With the remaining curry mixture in the 3-quart saucepan, finish the master recipe above to serve the 3 meat lovers, reducing the amount of chicken to 12 oz.
nutrition information (per serving):
33, Fat Calories
290, Saturated Fat
26, Monounsaturated Fat
21, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips