Disappointment = when you realise, the moment you open it, that you’ve accidentally bought LIGHT cream cheese. This sort of thing I find quite difficult to get over. It just happened to me and my plan to try to move on from that is to concentrate on something that I rarely find disappointing: red curry.
The sweet, salty, creamy, fragrant red curry is deeply satisfying on so many levels. And like almost every Thai dish that I can think of, the ingredients can be pretty much up to you. Choose your protein – prawns, chicken, pork, beef, tofu – throw in whatever veggies you have handy, and you’re away.
You can go all DIY and make your own spice paste if that floats your boat, but I’m a big fan of a good prepared paste. If someone else is happy to spend the time pounding the chilli, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, shrimp paste etc, then I’m happy for them to do it.
Now, I consider myself to be a bit of a whiz on the rice cooking. I used to think I was all-that at it, until I watched the Lahu hilltribe woman who was the house-mother at a children’s home in Thailand where I worked for six months, make it. There were 30 kids. She cooked a lot of rice. So the secret is to wash the rice before you cook it. Measure out your rice, cover it with cold water then give it a good stir. Pour off the water and repeat a couple of times until the water remains fairly clear. Then tip it into a fine sieve to strain off as much water as possible. If you’re using a rice cooker, just do the rinsing in there – no need for the final straining – and cook as usual.
If you’re not using a rice cooker, next, boil enough water (in a kettle or separate saucepan), to have double the volume of the rice (1 cup of rice = 2 cups of water). Add a very small amount of oil to a pan that has a tight-fitting lid, and heat over a medium heat. When the water has boiled and the oil is warm, tip in the rice, stir to coat with the oil, pour in the water and cover with the lid. When the water is boiling in the pan, reduce the heat to the minimum level that will still keep the water simmering, and cook for whatever amount of time is recommended for the variety of rice that you’re using. Et voila! Perfect rice.
Ok, so back to the curry. Serves 4
What you need:
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon cooking oil (I like using coconut oil)
400ml coconut milk
300g meat/seafood/tofu cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup water
A few handsful of vegetables (green beans, red capsicum, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, pumpkin, sweet potato, water chestnuts – whatever takes your fancy), chopped
1.5 teaspoons sugar
Coriander leaves to garnish
Optional: fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves (if your curry paste needs a bit of a flavour boost)
Rice to serve
What you do:
Add the oil to a large, deep pan (or wok) over a medium-high heat, and stir-fry the curry paste until fragrant, then add one cup (250ml) of coconut milk. Add the meat and let it cook through for a few minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk and water. Heat until boiling then add the vegetables. When the vegetables have softened, add the sugar, taste and season if needed.
Spoon the steaming rice into generous-sized bowls, liberally douse with the curry, and garnish with some coriander leaves. Slurp away!