A good curry is as much a part of many people’s repertoire as meat and three veg, and it’s all the better when made with a homemade curry paste.
If I have time, I use a mortar and pestle to make a double batch of paste and then freeze half of it, so I’m a step ahead next time a curry craving hits. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll make it in a food processor instead. Green curry is meant to be spicy and hot, but if you prefer a milder curry, adjust the chilli quantity to suit.
Thai-style fish curry
1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
500g pumpkin (squash), peeled and cut into thin wedges
400ml coconut cream
250ml (1 cup) chicken stock or water
3 long red chillies, split in half lengthways
4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed in your hand
80ml (⅓ cup) fish sauce, plus extra to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped palm sugar, plus extra to taste
4 x 200g skinless firm white fish fillets, such as barramundi, blue-eye trevalla or cod
80g snake (yard-long) beans, cut into rough 5cm pieces
Juice of 1 lime, or to taste, plus extra wedges to serve
Thinly sliced small red chilli, to taste
Thai basil, coriander (cilantro) leaves and steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Green curry paste
6–8 green bird’s eye chillies, or to taste
1½tbsp finely chopped galangal
3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1tsp finely grated kaffir lime zest (optional)
3 coriander (cilantro) roots, soaked in water to remove grit, then drained and finely chopped
1tsp finely chopped fresh turmeric or 1tsp ground turmeric
3 red Asian shallots, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
Make the curry paste by pounding the chillies in a mortar with a pinch of sea salt to form a paste. Add each of the remaining paste ingredients one at a time, pounding after each addition until a paste forms, then pound until homogeneous.
Warm the oil over a medium–high heat, add the pumpkin and fry, turning occasionally, for 4–5 minutes until golden. Set aside.
Cook half of the coconut cream in a large saucepan over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until the coconut cream starts to separate and crack. Add the curry paste and stir for 6–8 minutes until it becomes aromatic and the raw taste has cooked out.
Add the remaining coconut cream and the stock, reserved pumpkin, chilli, lime leaves, fish sauce and sugar, and simmer for about 8–10 minutes until well-flavoured and the pumpkin is tender. Add the fish pieces in a single layer, then add the snake beans. Cover and simmer for a further 5–6 minutes until just cooked through.
Add the lime juice and then taste to check the balance of flavours – it should taste spicy, sour, salty and sweet. Add a little extra sliced chilli, lime juice, fish sauce or palm sugar to your taste if you need to. Serve hot, scattered with Thai basil and coriander, with steamed rice.