“Secrets, especially with cooking, are best shared so that the cuisine lives on.” Chef Bo Songvisava
Keeping this in mind, I set out on yet another adventure in the realm of Thai cuisine. Known for its boundless flavors, spices and aroma, the mastery of Thai food has started to gain importance. The smell that emanates from the Thai curry bubbling in a wok and calmly lingers all over the house acts as a call to the dining table. Thai curry with a generous portion of steamed rice; the perfect start to a long week ahead. Famous all over Thailand and across the seven seas, Thai cuisine is more popularly known for its curries. Red, yellow and green, no I am not talking about the colors of a traffic light, but of the different varieties of Thai curry. Each comes with its own distinct color and flavor; soothing to the eyes as well as the stomach.
The basis of every Thai curry is its paste, and it is this paste that paints the color of the curry as well. More often than not, it is just the omission of one or two ingredients in the paste that change the color and the flavor. Ingredients such as shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, oil, cumin seeds and lemongrass are often found in all curry pastes. It is red chillies, green chillies and turmeric that make the difference. Green curry like its red counterpart is spicy but the difference in taste and color is attributed to the use of green chillies, as opposed to red chillies, and sugar in the paste. Hence the fiery taste of the chillies is complemented by the hint of sweetness added by the sugar. The secret to a good Thai green curry is that the sweetness has to be defined.
- 500g medium sized prawns, thawed
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 100g green curry paste
- 2 tsp palm sugar
- 1 cup baby corn, chopped
- 1/2 cup pea aubergines
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
- Handful Thai basil
- Handful chopped red chillies
- Heat the coconut cream in a pan till it splits
- Add the green curry paste and stir to mix thoroughly
- As the mixture heats up, it should start to bubble and the oil in the paste should separate from the mix
- Add the prawns at this point. Mix to cover the prawns in the paste and cook till they turn a shade of pink
- Once the prawns are cooked, pour in the coconut milk and sugar. Stir till the sugar is dissolved
- Turn the heat down and add the vegetables as well as half of the basil and red chillies. Close the lid and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors infuse with each other
- If you want the consistency of the curry to be thicker, just add cornflour mixed with water and stir. (Normally curries are meant to be runny)
- Garnish with the remaining red chillies and basil leaves and serve with steamed rice
Colors play an important role in cooking as your eyes always feast before the stomach. An ocean of green dotted with red hues (of the red chillies) and pink tones (of the cooked prawns) is sure to do the trick; make you hungry for more. It is a simple recipe, but care should be taken in the initial stages while the coconut cream splits, if you leave it unsupervised or on the heat for too long, the cream will harden and stick to your pan. If that does happen, add some hot water to save your dish. This recipe can be used for beef, chicken, fish or any other meat of your choice. Savor the flavors of Thailand in the fourth post of my Thai cooking series.