Updated: Apr 26
This Thai curry is light and pops with the traditional flavors of lemongrass, galangal and basil. Although the list of ingredients is long, there are only standard ingredients and the main work is in preparing the curry paste, really quite a simple recipe. I decided to make a simple fish/seafood stock for this dish to enhance the flavors. The recipe below is quite easy, but it’s impact on the dish is immense. I generally make a large batch of curry paste, 2-3 times what the recipe calls for. I freeze the paste in small ziploc bags, and the next time around the curry is even easier to make. I serve this dish with Jasmine rice cooked with pandanus leaf, the hint of herb in the rice adds yet another subtle nuance to the dish. This recipe is from a wonderful cookbook filled with amazing recipes, like this one, from around the world. Most of the recipes are simple but they all are packed with authentic flavors. This book is a must for the casual chef who is looking to expand their cooking horizons.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the curry paste:
2 Thai green chillies, according to heat, deseeded if you like, or as per your taste
3-4 small shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
For the curry:
3 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, cut in 2 inch pieces
4 kaffir lime leaves, halved
2 large pieces fresh or dried galangal
2 tablespoons oil
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk 3-4 cups fish stock or water (see note on stock)
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup French beans, cut into inch long pieces
1 cup spring onions, cut into inch long pieces
1 lb firm fish fillets, such as pollack, gurnard, tilapia or grey mullet, skinned if desired
1 lb small shrimp, peeled
1/4 lb fresh crabmeat - a mix of white and brown, or all white if you prefer (optional)
A handful of coriander, Thai basil or ordinary basil leaves, roughly torn
Put all the curry paste ingredients into a food processor or blender and whiz to a fairly smooth paste, adding a tablespoon of water to help it along if necessary. The paste should be smooth in texture.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, then scrape in the curry paste. Add the kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass. Fry over a low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, without letting it colour, till the curry paste smells fragrant and is cooked. Add the coconut milk, stock or water, fish sauce, salt and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. Note: To make Thai style fish stock, put fish bones and/or seafood shells cleaned, tails, fins and whole heads in 6 cups water with 4 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 carrot roughly chopped, 3 small shallots roughly chopped, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 teaspoon dried Thai basil. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 60 minutes. Cool and strain removing all the solids. Set aside till needed or freeze.
Meanwhile, cut the French beans into 1 inch lengths and slice the spring onions on the diagonal. Add these to the curry sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
Cut the fish fillets into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the pan, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Stir in the crabmeat, if using, and heat through gently for another minute. If using other seafood cook as appropriate, 15 minutes or more for squid, 5 minutes for shrimp depending on size, 2-3 minutes for mussels and clams, or till they start to open up.
Serve in deep bowls, scattered with the coriander or basil and accompanied by Jasmine rice rice and lime wedges on the side for those who would like some extra tartness.