Star chef Kay Plunkett-Hogge shares two recipes from her new book Baan: Recipes & Stories From My Thai Home
Gaeng keow wan gai
A classic green chicken curry
(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)
for the paste
• ½tsp coriander seeds
• ½tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp white peppercorns
• A good pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp finely chopped & 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
• Two Thai shallots or one regular, peeled and finely chopped
• 12 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, de-stemmed and chopped
• Two long green chillies,
destemmed and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root, with some stem attached
• One garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 2cm / ¾-inch piece of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
• zest of one kaffir lime
• 1 tsp kapi (shrimp paste)
And for the curry
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• One 400ml / 14fl oz can of coconut milk
• 350g / 12oz chicken thighs, cut into 2cm / ¾inch dice
• 1–2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
• a pinch of caster (superfine) sugar (optional)
• 65g/2¼ oz pea aubergines (eggplants)
• Two Thai round aubergines (eggplants), cut into quarters
• 100 g/3½ oz bamboo shoots, chopped
• Two long red chillies, diagonally sliced into three pieces
• Large handful Thai sweet basil
• One long orange chilli (optional)
Pound all the paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar (hardest first, as listed, working down to the softest), until you have a uniform, close-textured paste. If it’s not completely smooth, don’t worry. If you prefer to use a food processor or a blender, again work from hardest to softest, and add about 1 tablespoon water or more to bring the paste together. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the paste until it smells fragrant (about a minute). Add half the coconut milk, bring to the boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the paste. Let the coconut milk simmer a little until you see oil appear on the surface. Then add 200 ml/7 fl oz/a cup of water and bring to the boil.
Add the chicken and bring back to the boil, then add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about six minutes. Add the nam pla and the sugar, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it seems a little thick, add a little more water – you want a soupiness, not a thick gravy. Add the aubergines, the bamboo shoots and one of the long red chillies. Simmer for another three minutes or so. Taste – you want this to taste vibrant, hot, salty and herbaceous. Add the basil, the remaining red chilli and the whole orange chilli if you have one, and serve with some jasmine rice and nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).
Khao pad goong
Fried rice with prawns
Heat the wok or frying pan (skillet) until it’s very hot. Add the oil, then the garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the prawns and the chillies, and carry on stirring, adding the nam pla, soy sauce and sugar, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cooked rice and stir through well, breaking up any clumps. Add the onion and the spring onion and incorporate well.
Season with white pepper, then turn on to plates and serve sprinkled with coriander and with the cucumber slices and lime wedges on the side.
Fried rice is one of the great comfort dishes – it’s filling, soothing and satisfying. I’ve used prawns in this version, but you can use slivered beef, pork, chicken, tofu, whatever. Feel free to pull back the chilli, too, if you like. You can always add extra heat later with some nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).
Three words of cooking caution: firstly, when you add the rice, you may be tempted to add more oil… Don’t do it! It will make the dish claggy. Keep breaking up the rice as you stir it through the wok, and work through it. Secondly, if you want to make this for more than two, by all means do. But don’t double up all the ingredients and throw it all into one wok. Make the dish once, wipe out your wok, and go again with the second batch. Thirdly, make sure the cooked rice is at room temperature when you make this. If it’s too warm and steamy, it will clump and stick. If it’s too cold, it will turn out as hard as a rock.