I do not have a lot of produce in my garden right now - it is hot and dry. However, I do have abundant chillies, galangal, lemon grass and kaffir limes. A perfect time to make a red curry paste.
I learnt how to make this beautifully fragrant curry in Thailand many years ago. The concept behind these curries are simple, however the flavour balance is an art and I still find it the most challenging cuisine to master. I like a lot of citrus and lemongrass, and a slightly sweet aftertaste, and this paste and curry reflect this. Play around with the vegetables - just remember the flavour is better with just a few options and only a little of each. I like lots of green vegetables, a couple of cooked ones, but mostly fresh ingredients added on top of the curry when I serve that add colour and crunch.
Forage Red Curry
Red curry paste
(enough to make 2 curries for 4 people - stores in the fridge well for a couple of weeks, or you can can/ heat process to store out of the fridge)
10 long red fresh chillies
1 red onion (or 3 eschalllots)
1 tbs garlic
1 lemongrass stem
1 tbs galangal
skin of 2 kaffir lime
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbs coriander roots
2 tbs peanut oil
1 tsp roasted coriander seeds
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp shrimp paste (optional)
4-5 tbs red curry paste (above)
1 tin coconut milk (do not shake the can)
2 small long eggplant or a handful of pea eggplant if you can source them
4 thin slices of pumpkin
(brocolli, beans, baby corn, and bamboo shoots are all good options here too)
1 tsp coconut or palm sugar (optional)
1/2 cup fresh podded peas
1 cup snow peas, finely sliced
1 bunch basil
lime wedges to serve
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
silken tofu to serve (optional)
bean shoots to serve (optional)
rice to serve (optional)
To make the paste, place all of the ingredients in a good food processor and blitz until a consistent smooth paste. I like to taste it at this point - just a little bit - to get a feel for its balance. It will be salty but that will be diluted by the coconut milk.
to make the curry, place a wok on medium heat. Open the tin of coconut milk and gently scoop the top layer of coconut cream into the wok. You will hit a demarcation between cream and clear liquid. Stop here and set the remaining liquid aside.
Add 4-5 tbs of red curry paste to the wok. Simmer until the sauce splits - you will see clear bubbles of red coloured oil appear - this is the time to add your next ingredients.
Add the eggplant and pumpkin and the remaining coconut milk and cook until tender. Add the peas and turn off the heat.
Taste at this point and decide on whether to add the sugar or any extra salt. If it is too rich for your taste, dilute with some hot water.
Serve topped with the shredded peas, bean sprouts, basil, fresh chilli, and torn pieces of silken tofu if using. I like to add this if I am having a bowl without rice, but it is perfectly fine without if you prefer to not eat tofu. It does cool down the heat if you don’t like too much chilli.