Perfect pad thai for beginners

pad_thai

Pad thai: the perfect simple supper

After green curry and tom yum soup (or maybe even before), pad thai is probably the dish we associate most strongly with Thailand, enjoyed for its combination of simple, fresh flavours, and consumed in restaurants and homes around the world. Surprising, then, that this ‘classic’ Thai dish was actually invented less than a hundred years ago.

According to Australian chef and Thai food expert, David Thompson, it came about as the result of a nationwide competition under the military regime of Martial Phibun. In an attempt to revive the Thai economy by encouraging the production of rice noodles, he tasked the country with devising new noodle-based recipes. Salty, sweet and sour with the crunch of peanut and a kick of lime, the winning recipe was named pad thai, or ‘fried Thai style’. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

Thai fish curry

thai_fish_curry_pasteEvery year as summer starts to approach my eating habits begin to change. Gone are the warm, comforting dishes of the winter months, replaced by simple salads, fresh ingredients and anything that can thrown on the BBQ and chargrilled to perfection. While the BBQ lends itself to strong, hearty flavours, I also crave dishes that zing with spice, and the delicacy of a beautifully cooked fish dish. This curry is the perfect summer supper – clean, fresh flavours bound with beautiful spices in a silky, refreshing sauce.

beautiful_fresh_fishNowadays you can buy perfectly good pre-made curry paste in the shops, but if you have the time I’d definitely recommend making your own. Not only is it hugely satisfying, but you can use exactly the combination of flavours you like, and if you read the recipe below it’s really very simple. You can also double or triple the quantity of paste and freeze it for future occasions – as quick and easy as popping to your local shop.

thai_curryIn this recipe I’ve used some beautiful whole prawns and meaty chunks of haddock, but you could use any combination of fish and shellfish - pollack, gurnard (an ugly fish but so delicious), strips of squid, scallops or even  handful of crabmeat for a really indulgent curry.

For the curry paste

2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 small green chillies, seeds included, chopped
50g fresh ginger, chopped
1 lemograss stalk, finely sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Juice of half a lime
2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
Scrunch salt & pepper

For the curry

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 spring onions, thinly sliced lengthways
Bunch of asparagus, each stalk sliced in 3
300g haddock, cut into bite-sized portions
Large handful king prawns, shelled and deveined
Handful coriander, roughly torn

Thai fish curry

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz til smooth. You could do this in  pestle and mortar if you’ve got a bit more time on your hands (or a muscley sous chef . . .).

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok. Scrape in the curry paste and fry for 3-4 mins over a medium heat. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 mins.

Add the asparagus and spring onions and cook for a further 2-3 mins. Then add the fish to the pan, cover with a lid and simmer for another 5 mins or so until the fish flesh flakes easily and is just cooked through.

Remove from the heat, scatter with the coriander and serve with steamed rice.