Saturday, 2 May 2009

Thai (style) Red Curry with Chicken and Prawns

You've probably noticed that I refer to this dish as a Thai 'style' curry, that's because it is my adaptation of an authentic recipe. I really like Thai curries as they are usually quite fresh in taste and I think it's probably the use of lemongrass and fish sauce that gives them a flavour character that sets them apart from Indian curries.

In my exploration of Thai cuisine I found a book in our local charity shop for £5. It's a weighty tome and at that price I just couldn't leave it on the shelf. I have certainly enjoyed reading it. Thai Food by David Thompson is a very comprehensive and informative resource, and now there's not much I don't know about the country's cooking and ingredients. However, there is the small problem of not being able to find those ingredients where I live. I expect if we were to to have well stocked asian supermarket, I would be racing back home with my bag stuffed with snake beans, pea eggplant, pandanus leaves, and water mimosa, but sadly there's nothing like that at my disposal. With that in mind I often choose to make the recipes where I can readily find the components or I adapt them to suit what I can get hold of. Sometimes, it's even difficult to find those Thai cooking kits in the supermarket so I often have to substitute the galangal and use ginger instead.

In the following recipe's instructions you will notice that I suggest using a pestle and mortar to make the paste. You could try using a liquidiser or something similar, but I think that because there's such a small amount, an electric kitchen device would be ineffective. Also pounding and grinding by hand gives a more desirable texture even if it does make a lot of noise and is quite hard work!

for the curry paste

2 long red chillies, deseeded, roughly chopped
1 stem lemongrass, chopped finely
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon coriander stalks, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

the rest…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into inch pieces
1 sweet red pepper such as a capsicum or romano, deseeded and cut into strips
hot water
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 kaffir lime leaves, dried is fine
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste
200g raw king prawns
handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped

First make the curry paste.
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chillies and lemongrass until they are quite fine in texture and reduced to a pulp. Then add the ginger, garlic and coriander stalks and continue to grind until pulped and combined. Finally add the pepper and stir to mix in. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and add the onion, Cook gently until soft, then tip in the curry paste. Stir-fry the paste with the onions until the raw smell of garlic disappears.

Add the chicken and stir-fry for a minute or so until it becomes coated in the spice mixture, drop in the kaffir lime leaves and sweet red pepper strips and pour in some hot water, about enough to scantly cover the meat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the meat is cooked and the liquid had reduced.

Stir in the coconut milk, sugar and lime juice and continue to simmer, giving it an occasional stir until the sauce has reduced and thickened and become a darker shade.
Add the prawns and heat gently until they turn pink and cooked through.

Finally taste and add some salt if you think it needs it. Stir through the chopped coriander and serve with some steamed Thai jasmine rice and wedges of lime to squeeze over.

Food photo taken from the book

Buy the Book and the Tools


Just Cook It said...

You got an absolute bargain with that book. Consider me envious

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