|hamilton's fragrant Thai prawn curry|
This is what happened when Hamilton Courtney from Home + Food came to say hello. I just had a look at his beautiful blog and was intrigued by his combination of both British and Thai home cooking, a result of his mixed family heritage. It definitely resonated with me and I would urge you to check him out.
I could, given more time, cook and write an entire blog based on other bloggers' food. I really could, but most of the time I don't. Why not? Well, it's a bit like the creative writing class that I dip in and out of. I listen to the things other people have written and I am filled with envy; for their creativity and imagination, and their ability to construct a beautiful piece of prose. I love my friends' stories and the way they write. But most of the time I know that as much as I enjoy their writing, it is just not my style. I have found my own writing voice and I think it works for me, (deluded as I may be!) So while I love reading other food blogs, in my heart I know that I am on my own path. As much as I would like to cook their food, my food comes from my life and experiences, and the food I cook for myself, for friends and family.
Whenever I look at recipes (whether it is a chef, food writer or food blogger), there is a mini systems analysis going on in my brain. Firstly, does it sound or look delicious? I then wonder whether it is something I could actually cook. Is it do-able? I see fabulous food that involves things like spun sugar or something that is slow smoked and I know that with the best will in the world, it isn't going to happen in my kitchen. I then do a quick mental trip around my larder to see if I have the ingredients, and if I don't have them - how easy are they to obtain? By now, I usually want to cook the recipe that has caught my eye and cook it right then and there. I don't really care if I don't have time or the friends I am cooking for don't like "X". I just want to cook.
This is what happened when I saw Hamilton's fragrant Thai prawn curry, of which he says
A freshly made prawn curry is one of the great joys of Thai cuisine. I grew up eating a lot of food that is popular in northern Thailand. Those dishes are healthier and more fragrant than their southern counterparts, and quite unlike the things people in the west are used to from Thai takeaways.
I used a bag of frozen prawns - I wish I had used tiger prawns, just for extra prawnyness, but the small frozen ones worked very well anyway. I used dried kaffir lime leaves as I wasn't able to get hold of fresh. Likewise galangal. I could have got them but it meant a trip into Camden and I was too lazy; I wanted immediate gratification.
As for the two teaspoons of minced red chilli in the recipe - when I suggested to Hamilton that I might use my favourite Malaysian Linghams' chiili sauce (or even Maggi's sauce), he told me that no, this would be far too sweet. So you need to add a sambal chilli sauce rather than a sweet dipping sauce. And of course, he was right. It would have been far too sweet.
I did use the shrimp paste because I have some - I wrap a little in piece of kitchen foil and dry fry it for a few minutes to release the flavours before crumbling it into the sauce.
The sauce is something of a benchmark, and once you can nail a balance between those different ingredient combinations they can be adapted in so many ways. Change a few bits here and there and you'll be cooking a rich red beef curry, Tom Yam Kung or even the sauce for a seafood salad.
hamilton's fragrant Thai prawn curry
Oh very wise words! I know I certainly did. I have been eating this ever since with rice or noodles. We had some leftover roast beef, which ended up with a fragrant sauce, and on another day I made the sauce to go with some lightly curried potato koftas. Gorgeous.
This is definitely a sauce you need in your cooking repertoire and dare I say it, even nicer than those I have had in Thai restaurants. The next time you are tempted by a takeaway, give it a miss because this is quick and easy to make and beautifully fragrant.
Quite, quite delicious.