With the advent of ready-made sauces, Thai curry has become somewhat compromised. The sauces necessarily contain sugar as preservative, and commonly recommend the addition of coconut milk. The result is all too often sweet thick gloop.
However, it is not difficult to make your own Thai curry sauce (green or red) using raw ingredients. Forget the purists who insist that the ingredients have to be individually pounded in a pestle and mortar. Just chop ‘em up roughly and whizz ‘em up in a food processor, or with a staff mixer. The result will be a fresh and vibrant assault on your taste buds. The paste is a good way to use fresh chillies you might have grown.
I like to add coconut cream to the curry in place of coconut milk. Coconut milk from a tin I find has a slimy texture.
What you add to the curry sauce is your own choice. Traditionally a green curry calls for pea aubergines, but these can have the resistance of small golf balls.
I like to add some or all of the following:
• Cooked shelled prawns
• Sugar snaps
• Bean sprouts
• Deep fried cubes of purple aubergine (boiled I find is also too slimy)
• Toasted cashew nuts
1 tbsp chopped galangal (use ginger as a substitute if unavailable)
3 tbsp chopped lemongrass
1 tsp kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp chopped coriander stems
1 tsp chopped turmeric root
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp shrimp paste
Chillies, either birdseye or mild
TIP: Because kaffir lime leaves, galangal and turmeric root are rather specific to Thai cuisine, I like to freeze these ingredients to avoid waste.
1 tbsp sunflower oil
5 tbsp coconut cream
1 tsp fish sauce
½ tsp palm sugar
200ml vegetable stock
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
3 red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
½ tbsp of Thai basil leaves, chopped
Extra fish sauce for serving
1. Blend the ingredients in a food processor, adding a little water if necessary, until you have a reasonably smooth paste.
2. Heat the oil in a wok, then add the coconut cream and curry paste. Fry over a medium heat until the spices are cooked and the oil begins to separate – this should take about 5 minutes.
3. Add the fish sauce, sugar and stock and bring to the boil.
4. Add the sugar snaps and aubergines, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the beansprouts and prawns (if using) and allow to heat through.
6. Serve in deep bowls, with jasmine rice. Sprinkle with the herbs, chilli and cashew nuts.
7. Serve lime wedges and extra fish sauce on the side.