Red Peanut & Vegetable Curry for Thai New Year – Songkran
I have not yet been to Thailand but was introduced to some of its food in recent years and it is one of my favourite cuisines. The heat does get to me but I find the combination of flavours, sweet sour salty & bitter usually with lots of heat compulsive eating – so while I have often been on fire, I have still found myself unable to stop tasting, so extraordinary have I found the flavours. It is easy enough to get most of the common ingredients in Dublin now so I usually make a monthly trip to the Asia Market on Drury St. to stock up on my Thai essentials. The theater alone in the shop is worth stopping by even if you don’t need anything or don’t yet know what you need.
This curry paste is easy to make once you line up the ingredients. It is apparently better to crush them in a mortar and pestle (the traditional way – I hear prospective Mothers in Law judge suitors by the size of their pestle) rather than use a food processor (I don’t judge!). I usually use about 1/3 of this paste when I’m making dinner for 2. You can up the chilli content or lower as you wish.
1/2 doz dried chillies
1 tbsp chopped coriander root
1 tbsp chopped galangal use ginger if you can’t get it
1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp chopped thai shallots or 1 of ours if you can’t get them
1/2 tsp shrimp paste (don’t go without it, you need this!)
4 tbsp peanuts (boiled until tender)
To make the paste add ingredients in order listed to your mortar and pestle them one by one until all blended and no large lumps are left. Set aside about 1/3 for this recipe and store in the fridge until needed.
2 chicken breasts
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
Vegetables of choice (I used tender stem broccoli blanched for 5 minutes and some cherry tomatoes)
Seasonings – Palm sugar, Fish sauce, soy sauce, as needed
Handful of Thai basil
Poach the chicken breasts until almost cooked and slice to bite size pieces
Heat a wok and add the paste with some oil and cook out for a few minutes
Add the coconut milk and turn heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes until the paste and coconut milk have become a lovely sauce
Season well with palm sugar, fish sauce, soy and add the chicken, broccoli and halved cherry tomatoes, and simmer to finish cooking.
Check seasoning again then top with chiffonade of thai basil and toasted peanuts and serve with rice.