Too hot, too spicy? Hot hot

Okay so Saturday night, we decided to try out a new curry… I got this recipe from my favourite adhock recipe source, BBC Good Food website:

Thai Butternut Squash and Chicken Red Curry

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/7579/thai-butternut-and-chicken-red-curry

The recipe looked delicious, we had a butternut squash, what could go wrong? Three things actually…

1) No chicken, so we substituted for stewing stew – which actually worked out fine, because the butternut squash needed a bit longer than the advised 10 minutes (perhaps I didn’t cut the butternut squash as small as I was supposed to?)

2) The recipe called for 3-4 Tbsp’s of curry paste.  We are not curry virgin’s and get our fair share of spicy food (particularly Warmtoes’, for whom his accidental Vindaloo challenge will remain in living memory, the hottest thing to pass his lips), however the Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste proved to be a little too much certainly for me.  We used with caution, going only for 2 Tbsp to start with, and this was sufficient to set my mouth on fire and burn my lips.  I was really surprised as I thought I’d just picked up this curry paste from a regular supermarket, not an Asian specialist and therefore expected it to be a little tamer than it proved to be.  (When we use the M&S Thai Green Curry Paste, we always end up needing at least an extra Tbsp then indicated in recipes).

3) Warmtoes’ fancied noodles over rice and the only noodles we had were the ones with a little chilli in them.  They were lovely as usual but didn’t help with the heat of the curry.

The shame was that aside from the heat the taste and flavours were delicious.  We included some green beans and torn coriander to garnish.  It was a good lesson in spicing and tasting as you go along, which is definitely not my speciality, so I suppose to should be even more cautious when using new curry pastes in the future.

For Thai Green Curry, we have a kick-ass recipe which is utterly brilliant and one we picked up from the fabulous Cook Yourself Thin cookbook.

I am a huge fan of the TV show and cookbooks Cook Yourself Thin having seen both the original series in 2007 with Harry Eastwood, Gizzi Erskine, Sal Henley and Sophie Michell and the second series in 2009 with only Gizzi.

For a lovely (and fairly healthy) Thai Green Curry, we use Gizzi Erskine’s the Cook Yourself Thin recipe but with a few tweaks to our personal taste – due to Warmtoes’ aversion to fish and seafood, we make this with Chicken breast instead of prawns, and we usually just go for plain basmati rice, instead to the spiced version (I’ll give you both below) it is gorgeous either way!  I like to think that recipes are fluid and change often like language as long as you don’t change the fundamentals and keep the balance right, you are fine (I sure there are those who would disagree!)

Gizzi Erskine’s Thai Green Curry (with a few changes to personal taste)

Serves 2, prep time 10 mins, cook time 20 mins, c.542 calories per serving

Ingredients:

400ml Tin reduced fat/light coconut milk

1 heaped Tbsp Thai green curry paste (depending on the paste, some may require more to taste)

2 Tbsp Fish sauce

1 Tsp Light brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 Lime

2 lime leaves, finely slice or 1 Tsp lime leaves from a jar

2 Chicken breasts, cubed or cut into strips (whichever you prefer)

50g Peas

50g Fine green beans, cut in half

120g Basmati rice

Method:

1) Put rice on to cook for c. 12 minutes, bring to boil then simmer on medium heat until ready.  When drained set aside until curry is ready.

2) Heat the coconut milk gently in a saucepan (do not boil – it will separate), add the curry paste and stir until dissolved.

3) Stir in the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and lime leaves.

4) Meanwhile chop the chicken and sear on both sides using a hot pan.  When browned on both sides, add to main saucepan to cook through, after 3 minutes add the peas and beans (I use a variety of green vegetables here depending on what is available/in season, sometimes asparagus and broccoli work well too).

5) When green beans are cooked slightly but still hold that lovely crunch, remove from the heat and serve over the rice in a bowl.

Quick and gorgeous – a decadent after work meal, which tastes like a takeaway with many less calories and fat, probably cooked in less time that it takes for the takeaway to deliver! Give it a try!

For a different kind of spice*, I look forward to some spicy food the way the professionals do it at our favourite Pakistani Kebab House Lahore in East London, who do the best lamb chops, roti and okra I have ever had (plus many other things, even the Chicken Korma is delicately spiced and utterly delicious).  It is a jewel of a restaurant, loved by locals, businessmen and tourists alike for it’s great food, great staff and reasonable bills.  Though note it is a bring your own bottle establishment, so you should bring some cash and hit the Off License on Commercial Road before you get to Umberston Street.

Go immediately if not sooner, you will not regret it!

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