- Food & Drink
A few weeks ago, on my last visit home, Sister Number 2 told me that she had never eaten Thai food. Not a mouthful. I was stunned. How was she going to be part of the aspiring middle classes if she couldn’t say with confidence: ‘Well, I like Chinese food, of course, but really, I prefer Thai. It’s so much fresher.’
This culinary void had to be filled. So, being a good sister, I went shopping in London for some of the more exotic ingredients, carried them down on the train, losing the glass noodles on the way, and last night we cooked a Thai feast together. It was a hit and the recipes are below.
A kind of tom yum soup
I didn’t bring enough galangal with me, so we added in some ginger. You could just use 100g galangal. You may also want to add extra chill – I toned all these recipes down for the family.
1.5 litres chicken stock (made my own this time, as it was a special occasion)
2 sticks lemongrass, fat ends only, pounded with a pestle to bruise them
Big handful of coriander leaves and stalks, plus extra coriander leaves to serve
40g galangal, peeled and finely sliced
60g ginger, peeled and finely sliced
4 tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
1 bird’s eye chilli, deseeded
30ml tamarind concentrate
60g demerara sugar
Fish sauce, to taste
250g cooked, peeled king prawns
1 Pour the chicken stock into a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the lemongrass, coriander leaves and stalks, galangal, ginger, tomatoes, chilli and tamarind. Grate the zest from the limes and add that. Quarter the limes and add them.
2 Bring the soup up to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the soup through a sieve into a lipped bowl or large jug. Return the soup to the pan and add the sugar and about 2 tbsp fish sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Taste and add more fish sauce if necessary.
3 Add the prawns and simmer for about 3 minutes. Ladle into 4 bowls, top with a handful of coriander leaves and serve.
Thai green curry with chicken
Again, you may want to add more chilli. We kept it really low and I think it could take at least 2 more chillies – we used long green chillies marked ‘hot’. We also used half-fat coconut milk, but switch to full-fat if you don’t care about the calories.
3 sticks lemongrass, fat ends only, roughly chopped
60g galangal, peeled and sliced
Zest of 2 limes, as much pith removed as possible, finely sliced
Handful of fresh coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp black peppercorns, toasted in a dry frying pan until aromatic and then roughly crushed
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 hot green chillies, deseeded and chopped (add more/leave in the seeds to get the heat you want)
450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large aubergine, chopped into bite-size pieces
400g can half-fat coconut milk
Approximately 2 ladlefuls of chicken stock
Thai jasmine rice and chopped coriander, to serve
1 Place all the curry paste ingredients into a small blender and blitz together. Add a splash of water and blitz again to make a paste – you want to get it as finely minced as possible. Taste and add more chillies, if liked.
2 Add a splash of coconut milk to a pan and place over a medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the curry paste is aromatic (if you’re using full-fat coconut milk use the thick part of the milk that has risen to the top of your can to fry the paste in).
3 Add the chicken and aubergine and about 1/2 the remaining coconut milk. Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining coconut milk and the chicken stock. Cover, keep at a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 more minutes. The curry will still be saucy but not ‘wet’. Serve it with Thai jasmine rice and sprinkle with a bit of chopped fresh coriander for show.