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Notes > Thai Ingredients Part 5 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in Recipes.
2 comments

Here’s some more notes about Thai ingredients – with a view to the green curry paste

 

Coriander stalk and root

Try to buy coriander at grocers and Asian supermarkets where they have bunches including a bit of root and lots of stalk. Stalk and root are basically concentrated coriander flavour and you can use them in any dish that has coriander as an ingredient.
Scrub the roots a bit, finely chop the stalk and root together. Add to curry pastes, or for other dishes, add to the pot for a longer cooking time. Then chop the leaves as a garnish (at the end of the cooking time) for more flavour and colour.

 

coriander

Coriander stalk and root

 

Kaffir Lime Peel

See this post for pictures of Kaffir Limes and their leaves. Just peel the kaffir lime with a knife or a potato peeler, they are knobbly, so don’t worry if you get a bit of pith… Here’s what you’re aiming for:

Kaffir Lime Zest

Kaffir Lime Peel (Zest)

 

Lemongrass

Chop just the lower, thicker 1/3 of each lemongrass stalk, this is the juiciest bit whilst the rest is quite woody. If you’re worried about throwing the tops away, you can make a lemongrass tea out of them – just pour over boiling water and brew for 5 minutes. This also goes nicely with mint, green tea or can be cooled as a summer drink.

 

Chopped Lemongrass

Chopped Lemongrass

 

Turmeric

Is another root, although thinner than ginger or galangal, and bright orange – it will stain your hands, chopping board etc. Still it’s wonderful for the odd occasion when you can find it. Otherwise, use powder.

 

Turmeric

Fresh Tumeric

 

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Thai Curry Pastes > Green Curry 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
2 comments

There seems to be some more interest in Thai food again, and I guess this is as good a time of year as any to have a special treat of some imported ingredients. Check out your local Thai or Asian supermarkets for the specialty items, substitutions are OK too – so it depends how authentic you want to be.

Here’s my recipe, adapted from a traditional Thai recipe from Chiang Mai Thai Cooking School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). I would definitely recommend making your own green curry paste – and this is a slightly unusual and delicious recipe. You can make the paste in bulk and freeze it in portions (for up to a year in a modern 4* freezer), it takes an hour or two to defrost and is then ready to use. However, if you want to skip the paste, buy a good quality Thai brand of paste (I’m afraid I can’t recommend any in particular as I always make my own) and skip straight to the curry recipe.

This makes 1 large portion of paste, for curry serving 4-6. I usually triple or quadruple the quantities here and blend it all together in a small food processor. If you really want an arm-muscle workout and to be 100% traditional you can pound the ingredients together in a large pestle and mortar until smooth.

Check out my notes via the hyperlinks if you need to know more about the Thai ingredients, how to recognise them and prepare them.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 inch galangal (ginza) – skin removed and chopped
  2. 2-3 stalks lemongrass – lower 1/3 only (that’s the thickest, juiciest part), chopped
  3. The zest (peel) from 1 kaffir lime (ordinary lime will also be fine) – chopped
  4. 2 tbsp chopped coriander stalk and root – you can sometimes get some root on bunches of coriander, else just use lots of finely chopped stalks
  5. 3 Thai purple shallots – chopped (use 1-2 small European shallots as a substitute)
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic – crushed
  7. 1 tsp shrimp paste (leave this out for veggies!)
  8. 1-2 inches fresh turmeric – skin removed and chopped (or use 1 tsp turmeric powder as a substitute)
  9. 1/2 tsp coriander seeds – roasted until browned, then ground
  10. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds – roasted and ground
  11. 20-40 small green birds-eye chillies (depending how hot you like your curry)
  12. 20g sweet basil leaves (about 5-6 large stalks)
  13. A pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper

Method:

Blend the ingredients for about 10 minutes in a small processor, scraping down the sides occasionally to get a smooth paste (or longer by hand with a pestle and mortar).

Now its time to make up the curry

 

 

A note about roasting dry whole spices:

It’s worth ‘roasting’ the seeds to release more flavour.

Do the coriander seeds first, they are bigger and will take longer to brown. Do the cumin seeds separately, else some may blacken whilst the coriander is yet to brown.

Do not use burnt seeds in the recipe – chuck them away and try again!

Place the seeds in a dry frying pan or wok on low heat and shake occasionally. They will gradually brown – be careful not to leave them as they will burn.

Coriander seeds may take up to 20 minutes. For cumin seeds 5-10 minutes should be sufficient.

As they are ‘roasting’ they should start smelling more aromatic and slightly darken in colour, however this can be hard to tell – especially with cumin seeds, so watch them carefully lest they blacken.

You can grind all the roasted seeds together in a pestle and mortar once they’ve cooled.

Thai Food > Green Curry 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, ingredients, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
6 comments

Perhaps the most well known Thai curry in the UK. I have a slightly different recipe which recreates the hot, spicy, sweet and sour curry without as much salt as many shop-bought pastes.

Green Curry

I’ve adapted this recipe from the one I learned in a Thai cooking school. It’s interesting to note that it is not the usual recipe you see in books, the special ingredient we were taught to include in the curry paste is Thai Sweet Basil. This is a good time of year to pick up some imported items for a change – if only to avoid another portion of cabbage!

Gaeng Kiawan Gai
(Green Curry with Chicken)

Serves 4 with steamed rice as a lunch or dinner, or more as one dish in a traditional meal
Ingredients:

  • 300-500g chicken (breast works very well in this dish, but use whatever you have) – thinly sliced
  • 750mls coconut milk – separated into thick and thin (you can do this by putting a tin in the fridge and then it’s easy to pour the thin coconut milk out – the thick milk will solidify at the top of the tin)
  • 80g (3 tablespoons) home-made green curry paste (2 tbsp of bought paste)
  • 5 apple egg plants – cut into quarters (do not do this in advance as the egg plants will brown)
  • A handful of small, pea egg plants – removed from their stalks
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding stem
  • 1 big green chilli – sliced
  • 1 big red chilli – sliced
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • A handful or two of Thai sweet basil leaves

Method:

  1. First, heat up the oil in a pan. Then add the green curry paste and fry for about 4 minutes until the paste is cooked.
  2. Then add most of the thick coconut milk and mix in until you form a thick, smooth curry base. If your home-made paste is a bit coarse, you can liquidise this mixture to create a smoother look.
  3. Now add most of the thin coconut milk. Stir and heat to combine. (This part of the curry base can be made in advance and then left to cool until required.)
  4. Bring the curry base up to a simmer and add the thin chicken slices. Keep simmering gently for about 5 minutes until the chicken is nearly cooked through. As long you’ve cut the chicken strips thinly, this shouldn’t take too long.
  5. Cut and add the apple egg plants and bring to the boil again, simmer for about 4 minutes more.
  6. Add the pea egg plants and simmer again for a few minutes.
  7. Then add the fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves, stir and heat through.
  8. Turn off the heat, transfer into a serving bowl (if required) and garnish with big chillies, basil leaves and dash of lime juice to taste.

For a fancy finish: add a swirl of the leftover coconut milk by re-combining some thick and thin coconut milk in a small cup, pour some into the centre of the serving dish then quickly and gently stir to create a swirl of white against the green base.

Serve with fresh steamed Thai fragrant rice

Variations

Fish, prawns or beef all work well in the green curry. All meats and fish can be cooked in the same manner, with some variation in cooking time:

  • Beef steak, cut thinly can be used much like chicken, or cooked for even less time as you prefer.
  • Prawns take a very short amount of time and therefore should be placed in the curry sauce last, for 1-2 minutes to cook.
  • Monkfish is excellent in this dish, and needs less cooking than meat, add the chunks of fish about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Other white fish also works well.
  • Left-over roast meat (beef, chicken etc.) can also be used, just thinly slice and add to the sauce for 1-2 minutes to heat through at the end.

Pork benefits from a 30 minute pre-cook in thin coconut milk, see the panang recipe for more details.

Add other vegetables as well as or instead of Thai aubergines.

Vegetarian options:

Green curry makes a good vegetarian option, although you will have to miss out the fish sauce and replace this with soy sauce for strict vegetarians. Also make sure you miss out the shrimp paste from the curry paste.

Try different combinations of vegetables, depending on the time of year:

Baby corn, mange tout, courgette, purple aubergine, carrot, potato, cauliflower.