I lay no claim whatever to this dish being “authentic”, but my mother loves it and it seems to draw admiring sighs from those who eat it, so why not? I’ve developed it over a period of years without reference to any cookbook, partly as an attempt to recreate the flavours of red curries I’ve eaten in the past, not least in Thailand. But from there the experimentation took a lateral leap and the dish became something unique to me.
The point of my version was that I always used whatever seafood was readily to hand, usually but not exclusively raw tiger prawns. It doesn’t have to be prawns but I think they make a lovely red curry! I’ve often used king scallops in this dish (seared separately and added at the end) and occasionally squid and mussels, though you could use any combination of seafood to taste.
Two more small notes: here, I’ve used a bought red curry paste for simplicity, though I would typically make your own – it basically contains red chilli, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, lime zest, shrimp paste, salt and pepper – and in any case, I add more of the same ingredients to fortify the curry. Also, although my troops prefer the inclusion of noodles, there’s nothing whatever to stop you substituting steamed Thai fragrant rice.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- Good quality Thai red curry paste (eg. Por Kwan)
- Galangal (fresh or dried) or shredded root ginger
- 1 birds eye chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
- Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed & finely chopped, or 2 teaspoons of lazy chopped garlic
- Garlic puree
- 2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- Red & green peppers, chopped
- Other chopped veg if desired (eg. courgette)
- Finely chopped coriander (not too much)
- Raw tiger prawns, peeled, washed and drained (if you use ready cooked ones, add these right at the end of cooking, and if frozen remember to defrost thoroughly before use!)
- Other shellfish, to taste
- Lime juice, fresh or bottled (if you use fresh, also include a little lime zest)
- Thai sweet chilli sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar (moderate depending on how much sweet chilli you use)
- 1 tin creamed coconut (ideally not the low-fat version and definitely not the sachets)
- Salt & pepper
- Cashew nuts (optional but my kids like them!)
- Medium “fresh to the wok” noodles (optional – see note above)
Heat up a wok with a little neutral oil (eg. sunflower) until smoking hot. Add the veg except garlic and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic, puree, galangal and cashew nuts (if used) and stir-fry for a further minute. Add a large tablespoon of red curry paste and stir through, coating all the veg. Season with salt and pepper, add sugar and allow to cook through.
Add a good sloosh of lime juice (equivalent to a couple of tablespoons, but you may wish to adjust on tasting) and a large slug of sweet chilli. Stir in and cook through for 30 seconds. Add the full tim of coconut milk and stir through. Bring it to the boil, stirring all the time.
Add the raw prawns and other seafood (if used) and allow to cook through til the prawns are coral pink all over – no hint of grey left.
If you want to use noodles, add them now. You can also stir-fry them separately with sweet chilli, but they go nicely in the curry too. As soon as they are warmed through, serve immediately.