Thai Green Prawn Curry

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

‘Dad knows Thai flavours – and can cook up a dish pretty close to how it might taste in Thailand. So here is a recipe you must have a go at, it’s super simps’ and will only take an hour, but you’ll be on your way to understanding how Thai flavours work. You may like a glass of milk on the side… I always do :).’

Leo Williamson
'One of the best Thai Green Prawn Curries I've had and packed full of Thai flavours. It's a simple dish, and a quick one to rustle up after work for the family.'

What you need

360g raw king prawns

300g rice – either long grain, basmati or jasmine

1 medium onion chopped

1 green pepper – cut in half and sliced

2 garlic cloves chopped

4 tbs chopped ginger

1 green or red chilli – to taste – chopped

4 pak choi

1 tsp Thai green curry paste (optional)

250ml chicken stock or water

400ml Thai coconut milk in a tin that has not been shaken

1 tbs nam pla or light say or dark soy – to taste

1 tbs palm or caster sugar – to taste

Small handful of fresh coriander (appox 30g.) to taste

2 limes

Groundnut oil

 

Option ingredients

2 lemongrass stalks – bashed

Coriander roots  – washed and chopped finely

2 or 3 kaffir lime leaves

1/2 tsp shrimp paste



Dad's Recipe Tales

World cuisines  – in the comfort of your own home!

Our larder has the ingredients to make a basic rendition of many national styles of cuisine. I am naturally curious as to why something tastes of a certain region and over the years have built a larder full of ingredients from around the world.

I’ve learned that nixtamalized corn gives an immediate taste of Mexico. If you cook with white wine, tarragon and cream – you might imagine you are in a French kitchen. Smoked paprika seems to flavour just about all Spanish food. Italian flavours are easy to create with tomato and oregano or basil. Chinese food revolves around consistent use of ginger, spring onion, garlic, chilli and soy. Japanese flavours always embrace, soy, mirin, sake and sugar. Indian flavours can be built with spice mixtures including cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli. And Thai flavours can be created with nam pla, palm sugar, coconut milk, lime and chilli.

I’m not saying I am an expert in each cuisine – I would love to be so; but that would require cooking in the regional style day after day, probing deeper and deeper into authentic techniques, methods and recipes. I do not have enough time to do this, however, I do try to learn and practise as much as I can. For instance, I know that Thai flavours especially rely on an equal balance of sweet, salt, sour and hot tastes. Get some authentic ingredients, balance the four tastes carefully and the result should resemble a fairly good Thai dish.

There are of course limits to how far you can make food taste authentic in the home. Some key ingredients will always be difficult to source, some cooking methods impossible to replicate. Also without regularly eating and tasting authentic food cooked by a cuisine’s masters, we will be always be cooking in a vacuum – guessing at how something should taste instead of knowing. This is one of the best reasons I can give for traveling, or at least getting out to a few restaurants. It’s good exercise for the palate!

How Dad Cooked It

This is a simple, quick and basic recipe for a Thai style meal, use red pepper and red curry paste for a red curry. Replace prawns with other fish or chicken for variations on a theme. If you want to add some more depth of flavour add some shrimp paste with the curry paste. You can also add lemon grass and coriander roots with the liquid (discard lemon grass at the end of cooking). If you have kaffir lime leaves add these at the liquid stage as well.

Traditional Thai cooking techniques require endless pounding of ingredients in a pestle and mortar – it’s time-consuming and messy. My method is rather like making an Italian pasta sauce using Thai flavours. It’s much simple and still tastes very Thai…

NB: Proprietary Thai curry pastes are strong and hot – a teaspoon is more than enough for most tastes – this means keeping the remaining paste in a jar in the fridge (it lasts indefinitely). However, if this is an issue the paste can be optional –  it is essentially concentrated Thai flavours, many of which are in the ingredient list.

As per my tale above this is all about getting a good and equal balance of sweet, salt, sour and hot. Adjust to suit your taste.

  1. Cook the rice. Put the rice in a heavy-based pan with tight-fitting lid (a small Le Creuset is best). Add 1 tsp of oil and stir on medium-high heat for a few minutes. Boil some water and measure 600ml, then add to the rice and stir, bring quickly to a boil at the highest heat. Put on the lid and turn the heat to lowest setting. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and rest for 10 minutes – do not open the lid. (I fill a standard tea mug full of rice and then use the same mug to measure the boiling water – one full mug plus just over an additional 3/4 mug. I use different size mugs and cups for different quantities…)
  2. Start the thai green prawn curry. Fry the onions on medium-high heat in a wok or large frying pan with a tablespoon of oil. Fry for a minute, then add the chilli, garlic, ginger. Fry for 5 minutes. Then add pepper and curry paste and fry for a minute.
  3. Add the liquid. Add the stock or water and the clear coconut milk. (Good tins of coconut milk will separate into clear liquid and solid coconut cream. Using the light milk will help braise the curry – adding the cream at the end helps create a fresher taste.)
  4. Add the sweet and salt flavour. Add the palm sugar and the nam pla and stir. Let the curry simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the pak choi. Chop the pak choi and add to the curry, simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  6. Finish the curry. Add the prawns, coconut cream and half the coriander (the half with mostly stalks). Stir and bring back to a simmer and cook until the prawns are just done and still tender (prawns go hard and tough if overcooked). Add the lime juice to taste. (NB: don’t add lime juice earlier in the cooking – it will taste soapy if you do. Also don’t cook with the peel or pith – it can make the food unpleasantly bitter.)
  7. Serve. With rice and extra vegetables of your choice. Garnish with the remaining fresh coriander. Extra soy or chilli can be served on side.

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