Creamy Thai Seafood Red Curry
I’ll admit it. This is a sort of bastardisation of Thai food. Why? I shall comment as I go along. So after my perfect rice experiment, I decided to make something relatively simple to go with it. Thai curry is one of those super quick things you can knock up in no time at all, I think it’s even simpler than a stir-fry as there aren’t as many ingredients.
So we start with some fresh seafood – in this case I have prawns, which I peeled and deveined. And some calamari (also known as squid or sotong here in Singapore) which I cleaned, removed the ink sacks and whatnots. I scored the calamari and slice it into pieces (so one small calamari and about five large-ish prawns). By the way this ends up being a lot of food for one person. I have a lot of leftover. For vegetable, I use round Thai eggplants. I have to say they’re not my favourite vegetable in the world, but Thai curries feel so un-authentic without them so I quartered them in. Some slice fresh red chilli and a lot of Thai basil leaves (you don’t really need that much but I have a plant and it needed pruning) and a bit of carrot to add colour (no carrot in an authentic Thai curry ever. I’m sorry I don’t care if you’ve had it in some hotel in Thailand. Carrot in curry is not authentic.) To complete the curry, we also need a little container of coconut cream (200ml), a tablespoon of red curry paste and some fish sauce and sugar for seasoning.
Now a note about Thai curry paste. They can be vastly different. Some of them are hot as hell and just generally really strong whereas some of the exported varities tend to be much milder. If you buy them at a supermarket outside Thailand, they’re relatively mild. I recommend you start with half a tablespoon and add more if you need to. This is meant to be a very mild curry.
So add the coconut cream to the pan and stir in the curry paste over low heat. If this was proper Thai cooking, you’ll be stirring it over the medium high heat until the coconut cream splits. When the coconut cream splits, a layer of oil forms at the top. Hence you’ll see the red attractive layer of oil on many curries. But I don’t like that with seafood. I prefer it to be creamy (and this is generally the style of curries served in Australia hence the reference to bastardisation) so we’re going with low heat. The coconut cream should already have a mild sweet flavour. We’re not talking about sweetened coconut cream here. We’re talking about the natural sweetness of the coconut itself. So when you season it, bear this in mind before adding any sugar.
Once the coconut cream and the curry paste is nicely blended together, add your vegetables. If there is one thing I really hate is overcooked seafood. Stir around until the vegetables are almost cooked. Taste if you’re unsure. Add your seafood and the rest of the coconut cream (at this point if it were proper Thai cooking, you’ll be adding coconut milk or water). Cover and simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes until the seafood is cooked through. Don’t overcook the seafood. Don’t overcook the seafood. Oh please don’t overcook the seafood and ruin it.
Now taste. This is important. As I mentioned earlier, the curry paste can be vastly different. Some are already pretty heavily salted and sometimes your seafood can be quite salty. Add a little bit of water if you think it’s too dry and keep stirring. Round off the taste with a pinch of sugar and some fish sauce if required. Today, I didn’t have to add either. It was already perfect, the coconut cream was already sweet and the curry paste was quite salty. So let your taste guide you. Don’t even think about adding things like tamarind. I saw this idiot chef on Asia Food Channel and he was throwing in every single bloody ingredient he deemed to be Thai. No, honey, there is no tamarind or lime juice in a red curry. There. I said it. The end.
Top off with the sliced red chillies and basil leaves. Serve on the perfectly steamed rice (below).