A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of my dinner on our Facebook page because it looked so lovely I wanted everyone to see it. Quite a few people asked for the recipe, so here it is. It is unusual for me as I am a bit of a purist when it comes to green curry I always go with chicken, but this worked really well.
I learned how to make green curry years ago on a cooking course in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. Our teacher told us that this paste recipe belongs to his family so I guess it is traditional to the area. I have never changed it because I absolutely love it and never tire of eating it. It is like all the best Thai food, fresh, hot and kind of punches you in the mouth.
I should say now that it is a bit of hard work. It takes about 45 minutes of bashing with a pestle and mortar which is more than a lot of people can stand. It should only be attempted using a good quality pestle and mortar; wooden ones are no good for this.
Green Chicken Curry was one of the most popular dishes on the menu in my restaurant in Peru. A Thai customer (hello June) asked me how we made it and when I told her we made our own curry paste she could not believe it. She told me even in Thailand nobody makes their own curry paste, they just buy one and augment the flavours to suit their own tastes. So, don’t feel bad if the idea of making it does not appeal, you can substitute a shop-bought paste and follow the second-half of the recipe.
I have never achieved the same fragrance buy using a shop bought curry paste, but as I said I am a stickler. Also I bet the sell better curry paste in Thailand. Becky makes a yellow curry paste with a food processor. It is pretty good but doesn’t achieve the same blend of flavour as the ingredients are chopped small but they are not a paste. For me it’s just not quite there.
Curry paste is a great ingredient to have ready in the fridge and keeps for a month or so. I use it to stir-fry noodles and veg, in soups, fishcakes, marinades and also in viciously hot Thai salads.
If you don’t make the paste this recipe is really fast and easy. It came about because it was one of those grey, cold summer days we get too many of in England. I had bought the ingredients to make a salmon salad for dinner but when the time came I just couldn’t face eating a salad. I had some curry paste in the fridge and so this is where the ingredients ended up.
I have called it a seasonal green curry as it uses some classic English summer ingredients, peas, runner beans and pea shoots. These add a lovely sweetness and a bit of texture to the dish. It would also be great with other types of fish or seafood, whatever you have available.
Seasonal Green Curry with Salmon
For the Curry Paste (should make about 5-6 tablespoons of paste)
- 12 green Birdseye chillies (or any other really hot chilli)
- 1tsp salt
- 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
- 1tsp roasted coriander seeds
- 2 inch piece galangal (or regular ginger)
- 1 inch piece of turmeric root (or ½ tsp turmeric powder)
- 2-3 stalks lemongrass (about 2 tbsp when sliced)
- 1 tbsp sliced coriander root
- 10-15 coriander leaves
- 2 lime rinds (or 1 rind if using kaffir limes)
- 2 shallots
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
1. Add the ingredients one by one to the mortar and pestle in the order they appear above and smash the hell out of them – easy.
2. Start with the chillies and salt together as the salt helps break them down.
3. The paste is ready when it is a uniform colour and you can’t see any of the individual ingredients.
For the curry (serves 4)
- 4 salmon fillets
- 8 runner beans
- 100g frozen peas
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 4 green chillies – bruised (Don’t add these if you want a milder curry, it is going to be pretty hot without them)
- 4 level tbsp green curry paste
- 10 kaffir lime leaves
- Juice of 1-2 limes
- 1-2 tbsp palm sugar (or any sugar you have available)
- 3-4 tbsp fish sauce
- Fresh coriander leaves and pea shoots to garnish
1. Prepare everything in advance, once you start this will be ready in less than 10 minutes. Chop the salmon into uniform sized cubes so they cook at the same time. Bruise the chillies, finely chop the lime leaves and juice the limes. Take the peas out of the freezer or shell them if you are using fresh ones.
2. Finely slice the runner beans (2mm thick) and blanch them in boiling water until they are cooked to your liking. Drop them into some cold water until you are ready to add them to the curry.
3. Empty the cans of coconut milk into a wok or saucepan and begin to heat it gently.
4. Add the curry paste, lime leaves and chillies, mix well and bring the mixture to a very gentle boil for a couple of minutes to cook the ingredients in the paste.
5. At this point the seasoning and balance of flavours needs to be achieved. Add some of the fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice and taste. Adjust these ingredients until you achieve a balance you like between the sweet, salty, sour and hot.
6. When the sauce is exactly as you like it add the salmon and let the curry come back to the boil.
7. Add the runner beans and peas and when these are hot the curry is ready.
8. Garnish with coriander and the pea shoots.
And you’re done! A delicious Thai Green Curry with Salmon.