I love sight seeing and buying trinkets when I go overseas, but there is something incredibly special about buying local culinary specialties. In my pantry we have truffle oil from Rome, squid ink from Venice, chocolate from Osnabrück and noodles from Fuzhou. They remind me of the great adventures Jason and I had along our travels.
The best souvenir I've ever brought back, however, is some recipes from a cooking class Jason and I attended in Phuket. We were taken to a local market to taste the local food before being whisked away to the kitchens to try our hand at Chicken Green Curry, Basil Chicken and Tom Yum Goong.
Our favourite was the green curry, which I have since adapted to suit my tastes and what is available at the supermarket. I am lucky enough that my local Asian grocery stocks most of the essential Thai ingredients - there is sometimes even fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai eggplant!
The hardest thing about this recipe is collecting the ingredients which most good Asian groceries should be able to help you out with. The next step after that is to grind all the ingredients into a paste (which I find quite therapeutic actually).
So, lovely readers, what do you like to take back from an overseas trip? Do you make your own curry paste or do you prefer the store bought variety?
Thai Green Curry with Chicken (Serves 4 to 6)
Inspired by recipe at Phuket Thai Cooking School
2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
8 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn
3-6 birds eye chilies
2 shallots, chopped
5cm x 2cm x 2cm ginger, chopped
1 small bunch of fresh coriander (stalk and roots too!)
1 lime -zested and juiced
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
2 to 4 Tbs green curry paste (depending on how strong you like it. I like my VERY intense)
400ml can of coconut milk
300g boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
200g broccoli, cut into small florets
200g can of sliced bamboo shoots, drained
optional: 4 Thai eggplants, cut into bite sized pieces
1. Blitz all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor** until it forms a paste. Taste to see if it needs more heat (chili), sour (lime juice), sweet (sugar) or salt (fish sauce). Adjust as required and set aside.
2. Heat up a wok (or deep frying pan) and 1 cup of the coconut milk. Wait until it boils and the milk starts to separate.
3. Once the coconut milk begins to separate, stir through all of the curry paste. Fry until fragrant and when all the milk has been soaked up.
4. Stir in the remaining coconut milk.
5. Add the chicken, broccoli and bamboo shoots. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
6. Serve hot with fluffy rice.
* This paste can be stored in a jar for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
** If, you don't own a food processor, the curry paste can be made in a pestle and mortar. It takes a little longer, and you will probably need to process it in batches, but it makes the end result a lot more satisfying. Start by grinding down the lemongrass and lime leaves before adding the rest of the ingredients.
|Here's a sneaky photo of us standing in the sweltering heat, proudly displaying our dishes|