Earlier this year I was given a Thai recipe book from a friend returning from Thailand – Pum’s Lazy Thai Cuisine that I hadn’t had a chance to try yet. Tonight was the perfect opportunity, with all our recipes except for one coming from this great book.
Armed with shopping bags full of rice, spices, vegies and a bag full of chillies, we started preparing the curry pastes in the afternoon – a green paste and red paste. I usually use a pre-made curry paste when I cook Thai food, and didn’t have much of an idea what they were made from other than chilli, until now. The green paste is made from green chillies, galangal (closely related to ginger), lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, thai shallots, thai sweet basil, salt and oil. To make the red paste, you replace the green chillies with red chillies, remove the basil, and swap the oil with chilli oil. It was quite difficult to grind in my small mortar and pestle so I cheated a little and whizzed them in the food processor, then popped them back in for a quick pounding.
I decorated our dining table with two lovely leaves from our large bird of paradise plants in the garden, some candles and an elephant statue to get the tropical feeling. Spiro even put on a tie (Thai?) – a bit of a Dad joke Katherine pointed out.
A few spoonfuls of the red paste were used in our entree Thod Man Pla, Thai fish cakes with cucumber dressing. Some lovely trevally fillets were given a few quick whizzes in the food processor, along with the chilli paste. This was then mixed with fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, sugar, and some finely sliced green beans. The vinegary chilli cucumber dressing had quite a kick but was really tasty on the fish cakes.
We had a very busy stove top from then on, cooking a Massaman Beef Curry (not from Pum’s book), Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai (Green Curry with Chicken), and Tom Kha Gai (Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup) with rice. I was really happy with all of them, they were really fragrant and well balanced flavours with the right amount of spice. The coconut milk soup was my personal favourite, and I love that you keep the spices in the bowl so you have to pick through the interesting shapes and textures. Spiro decided to double the Massaman recipe so I think we’ll be eating it for the next few days.
To finish the meal, we served sticky rice with coconut milk and banana. Gee it was good to eat a banana again, I forgot how much I miss them lately – they’re a rarity in Australia at the moment with the floods wiping out most of the plantations in Queensland at the end of last year. The sticky rice was easy – just boil a tin of coconut milk with a few spoons of sugar, then add in precooked sticky rice, a pinch of salt and enjoy!
Next time we dine in Portugal at Katherine and Raoul’s house.