Monday, 21 April 2008

Thai Green Curry

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 coriander

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.


tigerfish said...

I heard the Mae Ploy brand many times too but have not tried it before. In fact, I have not tried cooking green curry yet. You are better - you pound your own from scratch!

Anonymous said...

I'll lend you Fred if you like...he'll happily spend hours with his pestle and mortar!

This looks lovely, we were just saying last night that we hadn't had green curry for ages.

Lizzie said...

Ha ha - when I got bored of it I demanded the boyfriend take over as "my wrists are too girly!" I made the pork and green bean dry pork curry that you posted as well so it was double the pestle-and-mortaring. Due to be posted soon, I'll stick a link to your blog for it.

Anonymous said...

Oh cool, I hope you enjoyed it. I thought was really good actually, much better than the Thai stuff we did this week.

Nilmandra said...

Mae Ploy brand is pretty popular although I have not tried their green curry paste. Yours look awesome! A pestle and mortar, just like how my mum made her curry :) Well, before she got old, or so she claimed ;)

Vicky said...

I take it the pestle and mortar I got you wasn't quite cut out for this job! Didn't realise you were this hardcore!!

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

Just looking through your blog and saw your Thai recipes. A work friend had a leaving do at their fav restaurant (thai) and from then I've been hooked on the aromatic freshness and subtle heat! (I'm not one fieryness in everything I eat!)
I have the same cookbook and made this paste bank hol Mon. There is nothing to beat the fresh aromatic heaven in a home-made (or home-pound) green curry. Someone recommended Blue Elephant green curry paste to me. I use half the packet and a tin of coconut milk and found it full of heat but not aromatic aroma. I was sorely disappointed. I don't have a nice heavy granite mortar and pestle like you but a hand blender with attachments - like the mini-chopper! It came in handy I can tell you!