Thursday, 19 April 2012

Shoppin´ and changin,´ a dish for all seasons

Over abundance of orange blossom in Casa Rosada´s garden, before the winds came
Even though the clocks have long since gone forward, summer in the Algarve still seems further away than all the daylight already saved. This is an interim period controlled by the weather; winter vegetables are coming to an end and the new crops of vegetables are not up to maximum strength yet. Snow in the north of Portugal is keeping the winds coming down to the Algarve cold. Fortunately spring greens are beginning to appear, and the strawberries have been prolific but the affect of no rain in the last six months has taken its toll on fruit trees,the oranges have not developed to a size agreeable for supermarkets to buy, resulting in fruit farmers taking to the roadside verges to sell their oranges.Now the high winds are playing havoc with the blossom.Yesterday I bought strawberries in the market that were covered with white petals from the orange blossom that had fallen on them from the trees.The apricots look like they will be late and will we have cherries in May?- The cooks schedule and calendar is all over the shop.Seasonally I am unable to match up menus to what the diary recorded I was serving in the corresponding weeks last year.The kitchen has another problem to contend with- are there enough fish in the sea or are the boats overtrawling and catching specimens that are not fully bred? Is sustainable becoming a forgotten word.? It is too early for sardines but small sardines have been readily available in the market for some time now. So back in me kitchen what am I gonna do? I'm gonna fix that, thats what I'm gonna do.......
A curry, relying on pantry staples, may seem a little out of place for the time of year. It’s hearty and filling and doesn’t require any fresh produce at all,well very little, nor half the attention you would lavish on other dishes during these normally warmer months. What can I say, though? Sometimes we find ourselves craving something warm and spicy, and sometimes I just plain can’t be bothered with getting in the car and driving to the nearest curry house.We were spoilt for choice  back in East London but here in the good old Algarve curries, side dishes, naans and rice can eventually take their toll, on both wallet and waistline. Sometimes, we prefer to stay in and have something a bit simpler. This recipe is quick, delicious and healthy.Few dishes provide both the spring freshness and cooked-in flavour of a good green curry.  Thai Green curry is now one of the most popular curry dishes the world over and now is the time to start those herbs growing, and if you haven’t tried already, basil and coriander are good ones. Lemongrass is very easy to grow from a bought stalk on a windowsill, then plant outside in a sunny spot and keep watered. It tends to go crazy, so you end up with a lot to use, which is why this easy recipe for Thai Green Curry Paste is so handy. You can make up a big batch of it and keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, or store in small batches in the freezer for up to a year.
You then have a good base for a really quick Thai Green Curry. Just add a tin of coconut milk, some green beans, aubergines and some prawns or chicken and you’re done. Easy!-yes fantastically easy, it’s also made up entirely of things you’re likely to find in your kitchen cupboards at this time of year. I don’t think of it as any particular kind of curry-  Rather, it’s just a combination of ingredients and flavours that I like, and usually have lying around:Lemongrass coconut milk,cumin
It certainly doesn’t disappoint for its possible lack of authenticity, though,but  I defy any curry lover not to love this dish. It’s not heavy; the fresh ginger and coriander keep things bright and vibrant.

Thai Green Curry Paste – (Nam Prik Gaeng Khiaw Waan)
Gaeng Kiaw Waan Neua literally means “Sweet Green Curry’ but if you like a little more spice in your curry then simply increase the amount of fresh green chillies.

FOR THE PASTE

6 medium hot green chillies about 5cm/2in long de-seeded and chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass chopped finely
2 tablspoons of coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2.5cm/1in knob of fresh ginger root
2 shallots finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon chopped lime zest
1 teaspoon shrimp paste(optional)

FOR THE CURRY
200ml coconut cream
2 tablespoons of the prepared curry paste( keep the rest in the fridge)
4 large green chillies seeded and cut in thin strips lengthwise
2 tablespoons nam pla ( thai fish sauce )
2 heaped teaspoons muscavado sugar
200ml coconut milk
4 kaffir lime laves torn
400g raw king prawns,shelled and cleaned or 400g chicken breast thickly sliced
3 tablespoons of tiny green pea aubergines or 200g aubergine,diced
handful of coriander leaves
handful of holy basil leaves


TO SERVE
steamed jasmine or basmati rice
Saute 2 tablespoons of ground nut oil in a frying pan and add the aubergine and allow them to soften and colour (about 10minutes)Scoop the aubergines out onto adish and set aside.


Heat the coconut cream in another larger frying pan until the oil begins to separate.Add the curry paste and fry until fragrant.Add the chillies,fish sauce and sugar, stir to combine and then pour in the coconut milk and add the kaffir lime leaves.Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes.Add the prawns and aubergine and simmer until the prawns have changed colour and are just cooked.Stir through the coriander and basil leaves and serve the curry with the rice

    1 comment:

    1. I'm one of those people with a sensitivity to coriander - it has taken me years to learn to love it but now that I do . . . and I love your paste recipe as it isn't as sweet as some of the commercial ones. I will let you know how I get on.

      BTW cheers for the tip on growing lemongrass :)

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