jump to navigation

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.

Advertisements

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.

Following recipes and other controversial topics! 5 July 2006

Posted by cath in general info, help, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, thai salad, thai soups, variations.
5 comments

One thing you all should know about cooking is that it’s all about personal taste. As the cook, you get to decide what ingredients to use and what your meal should taste like. For me, recipes are just guides, offering ideas and techniques, which are then adapted to what I have, what I like, who is coming round for the meal etc.

Variety is important. Everyone can have their own special way of making things, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you’re new to cooking, you may find it hard to deviate from recipes, so here are some tips on what to think about when reading a recipe.

There has been some controversy about my Laab recipe so lets start with some thoughts about Thai salads and other Thai food…

A recent post included another recipe for Laab. The two recipes are very similar – a couple of different ingredients, including sugar in the alternate recipe, and slightly different cooking techniques.

Cooking can be a controversial topic, and you’ll find many different ingredient lists and techniques for basically the same dish – Thai food is no different. Depending what ingredients you can find, you may have to adapt and look for substitutions. Also consider where you are, what your personal tastes are, and what about your guests? My Thai cookery teacher always asked what a dish needed when we tasted it…his response was always “more chilli!” so my recipes are pretty spicy reflecting this. Having tried both spicy and less spicy (when entertaining guests) I think it’s always worth adding a little more chilli than you think, the heat really works with Thai food.

Here are some other things to think about:

I don’t like adding extra sugar when it’s not required, so I would generally only add sugar to sweet and sour and possibly shop-bought panang paste. Its all about personal taste, but here in the UK we rarely need extra salt or sugar – this is not a tropical climate! So think about who’s going to be eating your meal, and where, before chucking in any sugar…

When you’re learning to cook it’s good if you taste your food before and after adding extra ingredients. Thai food has four main layers of flavour: salt, sugar, sour and spicy. If you taste before adding fish sauce or lime juice to a dish you can see what a difference these ingredients make. In my laab recipe, mint provides sweetness, with fish sauce, chillies and lime providing their usual salt, spice and sourness. If you like extra sour, add more lime juice at the end, as discussed elsewhere, cooking lime juice reduces it’s sourness. Taste and adjust until it’s what you like, or what you think your guests will enjoy.

Kaffir lime leaves are a common enough ingredient in salad, but I am not a big fan – I prefer fresh herbs such as mint and coriander as they are more widely available locally (in the UK). Lime leaves keep well in the freezer and are a good ingredient to have on hand frozen to add to soups and curries for an extra lemony flavour. But frozen leaves don’t work quite so well chopped up in salads. If you want to try lime leaves in salads look out for fresh lime leaves and use them promptly.

Now for the most controversial topic – do we marinate the meat (albeit for just a few minutes) before cooking, or after! My recipe recommends adding flavour including lime juice to the mince before cooking, then cooking it all up. This is the recipe I was taught, but more interestingly, it is a technique I watched many times on stalls and in restaurants. Some Thai (and other regional) dishes are actually not cooked: prawns and other meats are sometimes ‘cooked’ by just marinating in lime juice – the acid in the juice ‘cooks’ the meat or fish so it’s technically no longer raw. In the case of Laab, this was always the first step, you will see the meat take on a less raw appearance as its sits in the lime juice while you prepare the rest of the dish. Cooking in this case just heats up the salad, properly cooking it where appropriate, Thai meat salads are usually served warm. Adding the hot meat to the herbs in the serving dish really brings out their aroma. Remember if you cook the meat for long, the lime juice sourness will dissipate so add some more at the end.

So: cook, taste, add the next flavour, taste again…this is the best way to learn and adapt to your palette and to understand the effect of making substitutions.

Thai Recipes > Curry > Panaeng Moo 29 March 2006

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

SpicyPanaeng Moo
freeze-friendly

(Panaeng Curry Pork)

Serves 4

I must admit to being a bit of a cheater on this one…I have a great recipe for Panaeng curry paste, but I've got into the habit of buying it from the Thai or Chinese supermarket as, unlike some bought pastes, this one has a really authentic flavour…its Mae Ploy Brand, the variety they call "Panang Curry Paste" has a blue strip at the top of the label. They do a whole selection of curry pastes, but the Panaeng is exceptionally good.

Panaeng Paste

Keep your tub of Panaeng paste in the fridge, it will last for ages.

Ingredients:

500g Pork fillet or Tenderloin – thinly sliced
2 tins coconut milk – separated into a saucepan of the thin milk, retaining the thick milk (creamy, solid) for later
1 tin cold water (measure with the empty coconut milk tin)
3 tablespoons groundnut or similar oil
2 tablespoons Panaeng curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
5 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding the stem
2 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 big red chillies (optional)
Sweet basil leaves
Juice of 1 lime

Method:

  1. Put the pork into the saucepan with the thin coconut milk and water. Make sure the pork is covered by the liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. Put the oil in a wok or large saucepan and fry the Panaeng curry paste for about 4 minutes until cooked. Be careful at this stage not to burn the paste. Frying the paste produces a strong, spicy smell so you might want to close the kitchen door, turn on the extractor fan or open a window! For best results just keep moving the paste around the wok and keep the heat fairly gentle.
  3. Once the paste has been frying for a few minutes add most of the thick coconut milk and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the cooked pork and all the remaining thin coconut milk from the saucepan and incorporate it into the curry base, bring back to the boil.
  5. Add the palm sugar and stir to melt and combine, then add the fish sauce and lime leaves. Stir to combine.
  6. Turn off the heat and garnish with basil leaves, chillies and a swirl of thick coconut milk. Serve with steamed Thai fragrant rice.

Variations on the Traditional Ingredients:
Although traditional Panaeng Moo doesn't often include vegetables, I've found that quartered chestnut/brown cap mushrooms and courgette pieces work really well with this curry. Just add the mushrooms to the curry base, or add both mushrooms and courgette chunks when you add the cooked pork and cook for 5-10 minutes depending how crunchy you like your courgette. Alternatively try adding your own favourite vegetables to the curry and leave a comment if you come up with a good combination!

Cooks Note:
Putting the tins of coconut in the fridge for a few hours makes them much easier to separate into thin and thick coconut milk.
Take the can from the fridge and open (being careful not to shake it). Using a knife or spoon handle, push a hole down the side of the tin through the cream to the bottom of the can. Repeat on the opposite side so you have two holes. Then, using the knife/handle to hold open the lower hole, pour the thin milk through it from the bottom of the can straight into a saucepan. Don't worry if some of the thicker milk or cream also gets into the pan, as long as you have some thick milk left to use for making the curry base. Repeat with the second tin.

The Finished Dish:

Panang Moo