When I first moved to England, one night my mum made a Thai Green Curry for dinner. She used Mae Ploy curry paste, which is sold in many Asian supermarkets. I sat down to the meal, a mere 12 years old, eagerly anticipating my dinner. From the very first bite, I knew I was doomed. Instantaneously my nose started running, my mouth burning, my cheeks flushed. It was fiery, fiery hot. So hot in fact, that I couldn't eat it. My mum looked at me strangely, my sister scoffed at me: "Come on, it's not that spicy!" I carried on, thinking maybe if I ate it quickly it wouldn't be too bad. No such luck; the heat was unbearable. I remember crying hot tears of frustration as I threw my strop, declaring it inedible. That's what happens when I don't get fed.
Nowadays, I'm a bit more accustomed to the heat of curries. I even tend to add chillis to many meals, even if they don't usually have it (chilli sauce with cheese on toast, anyone?)
I recently invested in a huge pestle and mortar, one of those massive granite things that weigh about a ton. I also got "The Food of Thailand - A Journey For Food Lovers" as a gift for my birthday so I thought perhaps a green curry would be the best recipe to while my Sunday afternoon away. So I started chopping. Oh, how I wished I had one of Delia's mini choppers, as I quickly tired of it.
Thai Green Curry Paste
To make 125 mls
1 tsp ground cumin
10 green chillis, seeded
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only
5 lime leaves, torn and shredded
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 Asian shallots, diced
6 coriander roots (or a bunch of coriander stalks, as my coriander was rootless)
Handful of holy basil leaves
2 tsp shrimp paste
Finely chop all of the finely choppable ingredients above. Toast the ground cumin and coriander powders until fragrant. Bash it all up in a mortar and pestle (add the ingredients incrementally) until you get a paste. Apparently it'll keep in the fridge for at least two weeks. Alternatively, line an ice cube tray with cling film, add the paste and freeze.
To make the prawn curry, I simply fried 2 tbsp of the paste in oil, added the extremely untraditional broccoli and red pepper slices, and then added coconut milk. Simmer for 7 mins, then I added another 1 tbsp chopped galangal, 3 torn lime leaves, halved baby aubergines, green peppercorns and the prawns. Simmer for 2 mins, take off the heat, add a handful of coriander, 1 tbsp sugar (palm preferably), the juice of 1 lime and a good slug of fish sauce.
I know it's not particularly green, but it was the most fragrant green curry I've had outside of Thailand. It was spicy without being over-powering and the lime leaves really made a difference. It may have also been the taste of sweet satisfaction borne through hard work.