The Samovar


Thai curry
November 4, 2007, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Consumption, Cooking, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today I finally got round to visiting Paris’ chinatown. It has taken me an inexcusably long time given that it’s only about 10 minutes walk from me, but my excuse is I’ve been busy. Didn’t take any photos, but here’s one from france-for-visitors.com:

quartier-chinois.jpg

Anyway, the good news is that this means I can now very easily buy the somewhat difficult to find ingredients for making a good Thai curry (recipe below).  I’m coming to the conclusion that one of the best ways to buy prawns is raw and frozen, in large boxes from Chinese supermarkets (at a very low price). Whenever I’ve done this in the past, they’ve invariably been really good quality, and today was no exception. Frozen prawns have a bad reputation, but perhaps that’s based on prawns frozen after being cooked, or ones that have been frozen, defrosted at the supermarket and sold to you looking as if they were fresh?

The recipe

This is how I make it, any thoughts?

  • Thai curry paste – you can make your own, but I never quite feel it’s worth the effort when there are quite decent ones available. I really should have a go some day though, it’s not that difficult. For the one I use, about 1 large teaspoon per person seems about right.
  • Coconut milk, about 200 ml per person (half a tin).
  • Garlic, chopped.
  • Some vegetables. I used mini-aubergines (I find the Thai green aubergines a little bitter for my tastes) and red pepper.
  • Some meat or fish (optional). I used prawns today. If using meat, chop it into bitesize pieces.
  • Fish sauce, to taste.
  • Lime leaves, finely chopped. These can be a killer to get hold of. Your best bet is in the frozen foods section of a Chinese supermarket. I used to live near a Thai supermarket that had them fresh, but apparently it’s no longer legal to import them unfrozen into the EU. I use about 2 leaves per person.
  • Thai basil, ripped or roughly chopped. The name is a bit confusing, as what one shop calls Thai basil another may call holy basil and a third may call sweet basil. The one I mean has an aniseedy smell to it. About 10-20 leaves per person.
  • Groundnut oil

Heat some groundnut oil in a wok or saucepan until the oil is hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and stir until it begins to colour. Put in the curry paste, and cook it, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil. If you’re using meat or fish other than prawns (which only take a couple of minutes to cook), add them now. Add the fish sauce and a little water depending on how thick you want the sauce. It’s actually quite nice to put quite a lot of water in and turn the Thai curry into more of a soup, and eat it the Thai way (with a bowl of rice which you pick up with your spoon and dip into the soup). Add the vegetables and or prawns in an order which means they’ll be cooked by the time your rice is cooked. It only take about 6-7 minutes for chicken or about 2-3 minutes for prawns. Finally, a minute before the end, put in the lime leaves and basil.

Make sure not to attempt to eat with chopsticks (a common faux pas in Thai restaurants is to ask for chopsticks).

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5 Comments

And why aren’t we getting food/restaurant reviews from you? I’m dying to know what the Seychellois place around the corner is like.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

btw – try also adding/ topping with coriander and mint leaves. That triumvirate, along with holy basil (or even ordinary) is a wonderful combination.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo

Ah yes, that Seychelles restaurant, must find out where that is. So far, I haven’t had much success with good restaurants. Neuroscientists – bless ’em – are not the people to ask for restaurant suggestions, so I have been mostly going by my (English) guide book (which is crap). I think perhaps my French has improved to the point where I might pick up a French restaurant guide. Also, I’ve been unusually busy and not had the time to search out the good places. I will make efforts to do better. Actually, I think Chinatown might have some pretty good places. The place I had lunch at last weekend was pretty crap (although it was busy!), but there’s plenty of other places to try.

Coriander is nice on a Thai curry – I’ll try the coriander + mint combo next time I make it, sounds good.

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

… and in lieu of my own reviews (see what I did there?), you might find these entertaining:

http://parisbreakfasts.blogspot.com/
http://msglaze.typepad.com/

Comment by Dan | thesamovar

Also –

I use various garnishes for Thai curries. As well as the standard basil/coriander/mint ‘shrubbery’, I top with add:
– finely sliced shallots
– finely sliced red chillis
– quartered limes
– toasted, crushed peanuts
– julienned cucumber
– egg ribbons: Make some thin omelettes – as thin as you can manage. Roll them up like a Swiss roll. Cut into .5cm ribbons

Pile a bit of each on top of each serving. Especially good with soup noodle dishes.

Comment by Edward the Bonobo




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