Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A Little Thai Adventure (Part Two)

After all the trials and tribulations of acquiring ingredients that I needed (see Part One), I’m ready to get my Thai cooking on! My initial aim is still this Thai Green Curry. I will make my own paste. I will!

Without wanting to waste any fresh ingredients, I ended up making the following dishes:

  • Monkfish and Prawn Thai Green Curry
  • Monkfish Bites with a Herby Lime Dip
  • Chicken and Galangal Soup
  • Duck Massaman Curry
  • Orange and Lemongrass cupcakes

And here is how I got there....

Monkfish and Prawn Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry Paste

I had a friend over for the weekend and decided to make this for the very first time that day. Was it really such a good idea to attempt this for the very first time, from scratch, for a visitor? If it all went wrong, Fish and Chip Friday was bound to save us.

Before the cooking even starts for a curry, there is a fair amount of prep work involved. When making a curry paste, I have my trusted pestle and mortar. I've read that you can mix all the ingredients in a food processor but it's best to pound them in a pestle and mortar to release the full flavour. If I actually owned a food processor, I would have been tempted to use it!

I've been very well advised that you should mix the dry ingredients first before adding the wet ingredients. I was really pleased that my curry was taking shape when adding the coconut milk and other ingredients including some aubergines, bamboo shoots, monkfish, prawns. I really liked this combination as it was nothing too heavy.

My Homemade Thai Green Curry

My plan was all came together and both my friend and my other half enjoyed this meal. Twice in the fella’s case. Greedy pig!

My friend even ended up taking some of my curry paste home with her as she wanted to cook the same thing for her family! So needless to say, I was very pleased with the outcome.

Recipes adapted from the following:
Felicity Cloake's Perfect Thai Green Curry Paste
Rick Stein's Green Monkfish and Prawn Curry

Monkfish Bites with a Herby Lime Dip

Monkfish Bites with a Herby Lime Dip

Ok, so I've got a fair few fresh ingredients left that I want to use up before they get wasted, so I try and figure out what else I can make! I didn't use all the monkfish that I bought for the curry, so what else could I do with it?

My friend and I had spend a day shopping at the new Westfields Stratford. When hunger striked, we decided to carry on the Thai theme and visited Busaba Eathai. I've been to this restaurant before in Soho and off Bond Street. It's always a great eat and reasonably priced.

One of the dishes we had was the Gong Tohd Prawn, which are butterflied prawns fried in breadcrumbs served with a chilli lime sauce. The sauce was so zingy and refreshing! I knew I couldn't make an exact replica of it, but I tried to make something similar. Being hungry at home, and not really wanting to head out, this little concoction came to life from whatever I had in my kitchen.

In goes the coriander, some home grown minuet basil leaves, a dash of fish sauce, chopped galangal, a squeeze or two of lime juice, finely chopped lemongrass, a sprinkling of palm sugar, the heat of a birdseye chilli and a bit of seasoning. I probably should have written this down as it turned out to be quite nice!

I chopped up the monkfish into bitesize chunks and coated them in Ottogi breadcrumbs - a friend had bought me these so that I could make a Chicken Katsu Curry :) After frying my breaded seafood leftovers up in a little oil, it was time to plate up.

This really went down a treat and I will definitely be making this again.

Chicken and Galangal Soup

Chicken and Galangal Soup

Oh, the galangal. Why could I not have bought just one piece of it? I ended up giving my friend a few pieces to take home with her but I still had a good amount to use up.

Why, hello there Google Search! Chicken and Galangal soup came up quiet a lot. I'd never even tried it before and we quiet fancied a soup so I gave it a go.

After searching through some recipes and trying to find one which doesn't contain cup measurements, I decided against calculating the measurements and ended up doing a bit of guess work.

The usual suspects went in plus some mushrooms and chicken. Not too bad. I've no idea how it's meant to taste but it was quite a pleasant meal.

Duck Massaman Curry

Massaman curry paste

A massaman curry is a Southern Thai dish traditionally made with beef. I actually only tried a massaman for the very first time earlier this year - and I loved it. There seems to be a lot of variation on the name, but Google seems to favour 'Massaman'. I've seen it written as Mussaman and a few other ways I can't quiet remember.

On visiting the aforementioned Busaba Eathai restaurant, my friend had ordered a Duck Mussaman Curry (as written on their menu). It was surely delicious!

With ingredients still to use, I figured I'd give it a go having bottled out by purchasing the curry paste before. I followed a mix of recipes again. I've made a decent amount of paste so that I can give this dish another go. I'm glad, as this didn't really go to plan.

Massaman Curry

I think I've gotten the flavours a bit mixed up. Too much cinnamon involved, and I definitely put in too many peanuts. It could have been better but I do think my paste is a good base for it so perhaps next time it will turn out better.

I had leftovers and had read that this usually tastes better the day after. Why not, hey? Its so true. It does actually taste better the next day! The flavours just seem a little more aromatic and my cinnamon error seemed less noticeable.

I have found that I have a new ingredient to love though. Tamarind paste - it has a lovely sour flavour which really worked nicely in this curry. It's meant to be a popular ingredient for a traditional Thai sour soup. Yum!

Orange and Lemongrass cupcakes

What else could I make, eh? Something sweet of course! I hadn’t baked for a little while and so thought it would be a good opportunity to. My default bake is a lemon cake as it’s easy, tasty and a hit with friends and family. I didn’t want to do too much thinking, so decided to use the same base for my mixture. I added orange zest instead of lemon, a grating of the remaining lemongrass, and some ground ginger hoping these flavours would compliment each other.

Orange and Lemongrass cupcakes

After baking for about twenty-five minutes, the cupcakes came out of the oven. I tried to make a buttercream icing, but my mixture was too runny and too sweet. The cupcakes were quite nice though. Subtle flavours which made it nice and light. I was pleased that the sponge was very soft and fluffy too! The cupcakes had a lovely slight crust that I don’t usually get with my cakes. I think that it’s because I used cane sugar as I didn’t have caster sugar at the time. It’s not as fine so when mixing it with the butter, I didn’t get the same creaminess I normally would. But I think this resulted in the nice little sugared crystals on the top of my cupcakes :)

Now what?

Although my initial focus was the Thai Green curry, I’m glad that my excess of ingredients encouraged me to explore more on Thai culinary delights. Whether they are authentic or not, it’s nice to experiment with new flavours.

I will be sure to revisit, perfect and write down some of these recipes! Although, I’m quite happy to continue dining at the wonderful Thai restaurants we have here in this country :)

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