Sunday, 20 March 2016

Thai Curry

It has been a while between recipes and for that I apologise. It has been foodie paradise in Whakatane this year, with two brand new events; the Wild Food Challenge and the Sunshine and a Plate Food Festival. I am so lucky to have been involved in both events, but it has taken every bit of spare time I had. So now, after a week to rest my body and mind, I am happily writing again.

One of my jobs for the Sunshine and a Plate food festival was a wild food demo, sponsored by HOBEC. Using fresh swordfish for my protein, I made curry two ways, using very traditional red and green Thai curry pastes. Making curry paste is really easy and so rewarding. The recipe I am sharing today has been used as a sauce for every meat I cook and is really good with vegetables or lentils, too. I have served it as a main, an entrée, as a soup and as a stew. It is incredibly versatile and no matter what you do with it, it always tastes good. But first, some interesting information about Thai curry paste.

Thai curries as we know them are actually named “Gaeng”, but pronounced with a “k” sound in place of the “g”. The paste has always been made with shrimp paste, onions or shallots, lemongrass, garlic, chillies, galangal (closely related to ginger) and coriander root. While there will be variations added to these ingredients, a true Gaeng paste will always have these base ingredients. While most Thai curry dishes include coconut cream or milk, traditionally they did not. They are described in the first Thai dictionary 1873 CE as a watery dish using those base ingredients, as listed above. It is interesting to note that Thai people do not call this dish a curry at all. In Thai, “kari” (curry) is specific to Indian influenced curry, with flavours such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper and cumin.

When you make your paste, make a good sized batch – it freezes really well. I divide my left over paste into meal lots and store in zip lock bags in the freezer. Then simply take it out, thaw and fry, like you would when it is fresh. I would love to hear how you get on, so please feel free to make contact.

Kia makona, Mawera Karetai

Thai Green Curry with Swordfish
1 1/2 tablespoons for the spice paste and a further 2 tablespoons of oil for the fish
3 tablespoons green curry paste, recipe follows
Enough fish for the meal
1 standard tin each of coconut cream and coconut milk (use two cans of milk for a thinner sauce)
5 kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised
2 small, sweet capsicum sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup Coriander and some Thai basil

·       Heat up a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the green curry paste until aromatic. Add the coconut milk and cream and bring it to a quick boil.
·       Add the kaffir lime leaves and capsicum. Lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce slightly thickens.
·       Cut the fish steaks into bite-sized pieces. Sauté in oil until just cooked through.
·       Add the fish, fish sauce, basil and coriander to the curry. Stir gently and serve immediately with rice.

Green Curry Paste
1 tablespoon sliced coriander roots
1 tablespoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons galangal
1/4 cup garlic
1 Kaffir Lime (try really hard to find this, but if you can’t, regular lime will do)
3-4 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 large Green Thai Chilli Peppers
·       Making the paste: Toast coriander, peppercorns and cumin in a pan until light brown.  You’ll hear the crackling sound when they're ready.  Let the spices cool so they will grind easily.
·       Slice shallots, lemongrass, galangal and cilantro roots into small pieces.  I use one lemongrass stalk. Slice thinly or grate the kaffir lime zest, about 1 tablespoon. They will grind into fine paste with smaller fibers

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