Summertime 20203
Thai-Red of Curry Paste
Thai-red bear!

I bought some Thai red curry paste before last Christmas for my annual Tom Khaa Kai, because I read it would help. It does!.
It's a whole thing I have going on; to do with needing to eat a chicken so I can use its bones to make stock for the gravy for the Christmas goose. Long story.
Anyway the only decent prepared pots of this stuff are really big, so now I have toooo much Thai red curry paste! I'm getting tired of it. Thai-red of it. Geddit?
Oh please yourselves...

Fried Thai Red Curry Salmon
thai fish main
I thought I'd try coating some salmon with Thai red curry paste, of which I currently have excess, for frying.
You'll need to thin the paste enough that it will smear over the fish. I used fish sauce, rice vinegar, and toyomansi sauce as thinners but I thought that the thick cream from coconut milk might be ideal.
I'm sure you could also use mirin, citrus juice or most salad vinaigrettes. Even water!

Serves 2

De-scale the salmon if necessary.
Mix the curry paste with the liquids until you have a smearable consistency. It will probably remain coarse, but you need to be able to scrape it thinly over the surface of the fish.

Cut the salmon into fat steaks. Pat them dry, then roll them in flour and shake off excess.
Smear the loosened paste thinly on all sides.
If the sauce is thin enough you can squidge it over the fish pieces in a freezer bag to coat them evenly.
Heat a frying pan with a fairly generous puddle of neutral oil until smoking hot. Fry the salmon pieces skin-side down over high heat until singed and crisping nicely, then turn and brown on all sides.
Check the centre of the salmon has reached 45-50°C then remove and allow to relax for 5-10 minutes before serving.

You can use this time to pan-fry some side vegetables in the flavoured oil if you like. Blanched, halved tenderstem broccoli stalks charred cut-side down in the same pan worked well for me.
Excellent, but can be super-spicy. You probably want only a thin, transparent coating on your fish. If you can see a visible thickness of paste you probably have too much.
Having used a much thinner curry paste I have to say you can make the coating milder, but it does then lose a great deal of its distinctive flavours.
So I guess you get to choose - but choose larding on the heat 😉

Give the fish and veg a drizzle of toyomansi sauce to serve if you like. I imagine a coconut-based sauce or dressing would also go well.

Thai Red Curry Marinated Steak
thai main meat
More Thai red curry paste used up.
At this rate I won't have any left for my Christmas Tom Khaa Kai and I'll have to buy another huge pot and start the cycle all over again!

Coconut cream is just thick coconut milk, which you can buy separately, or scrape off the rich thick crust which floats to the top of settled coconut milk.

Serves 2

Mix the curry paste and the coconut cream and cook it gently in a small pot until it starts to bubble and the aromas are released.
Stir through the fish sauce and leave to cool.
Cut the steak widthways into two fat pieces, put them in a freezer bag, smear them with the paste and squidge everything together.
Leave to marinate for 24 hours.

Put a large frying pan over a high heat, add a drizzle of neutral oil and when it's smoking hot put in the sirloin fat-side down. Allow to crisp for a couple of minute and then fry each side so they caramelize and blacken slightly.
Remove fat-side up to a low oven until the centre of the steaks reach your preferred temperature (50°C for rare), then allow the meat to rest tented in foil for ten minutes.

Meanwhile rinse out the freezer bag with hot water and use it to deglaze the pan. Bubble off to reduce, add a couple of tablespoons of peanut dressing if you like then pour in a little cream or coconut cream and bubble until it thickens to coat the back of a spoon.

Slice the steak, scatter with sliced spring onions and serve with the sauce.
Ooh good!

Thai Salad
thai salad veg vegan
Is it a lettuce? Is it a cabbage? Yes: it's Chinese leaf!
Store the chopped lettuce separate from the juicy fruit if you're keeping them for any length of time to retain the lettuce's crispness.

There's a common Thai salad made with hard green papaya, but I couldn't find any of those. Or any ripe papayas for that matter, despite finding mangosteens and rambutans. So this is what I used.

Put out a bowl for the fruit.
Split and peel the rambutan skins. Cut the white inner flesh away from the central seed, and add the flesh to the bowl.
Split and tear away the mangosteen skins and inner purple sponge. Break apart the fleshy white segments and add them to the bowl.
Slice the spring onions on a bias. Include the white and green parts - stop before the leaves become gritty. Add to the bowl.
De-seed a red chilli or two, slice thinly and add to the bowl.
Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes and add.

If you're lucky enough to find a proper green papaya, peel it, and holding in one hand make long vertical cuts in the upper surface, then slice thinly horizontally, or use a peeler to create thin strips.
If it's a ripe papaya then halve, scoop out the seeds from the middle with a spoon, peel and cube the flesh.
If you're using a mango - run a large knife down either side of the mango stone. Cut the flesh in each (almost) half into squares down to the skin. Press flat and cut along the skin to release the cubes.
Add the flesh to your bowl.

Take a length of cucumber, wipe the skin, and quarter it vertically. Cut away the watery seeds from the middle, then thinly slice the outer part with the skin on. You can use a potato peeler for this. Add the strips to the bowl.

Cut away the (probably) dirty tip of the lemon grass root. Remove thick, hard and coarse leaves to reveal the pithy interior. Slice this thinly from the root end until you reach more leafy covering. Remove more tough leaves and continue to thinly slice the pith. Keep going until you run out of soft(ish) centre. You'll probably end up with a disappointingly small amount of edible stalk 🙁 (though you can crush the woody parts to flavour a neutral oil or a salad dressing).
Add to the bowl.

Roughly chop coriander leaves and mix with the fruit.

Starting from the top, slice the napa cabbage and break the slices apart. Dress or mix the lettuce with the fruit to serve.
Good with coconut-lime or Thai peanut dressing. Or toyomansi. Though really you'll want something with fish sauce.
Maybe just mash up palm sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and chillies?

Coconut-Lime Dressing
salad sauce
I used coconut cream, which produced a richer dressing. Leave out the coriander and the chilli if you like.

Blend everything together except the oil until smooth. Adjust the flavour balance to your preference.
Beat in a neutral oil (avocado/grapeseed/sunflower etc.) until you have a dressing consistency.
Not bad. I used a rather strongly flavoured oil which slightly spoiled mine, but the concept is good.

Thai Peanut Dressing
salad sauce
I loosely followed Culinary Hill in creating this fairly generic Indonesian satay or Thai peanut sauce.
Though I say so myself!
You can mix up any or all of the ingredients below in whatever proportions you prefer, though I guess the peanut butter, rice vinegar, and the soy sauce are pretty standard.
I might also have been inclined to add red curry paste for heat and complexity, and tamarind for sourness.
I used crunchy peanut butter, didn't have any ginger and blended the lime's zest and a red chilli up with everything else.
It was pretty fabulous!

You can grind your own peanut butter from roasted de-skinned peanuts if you like. Otherwise use something from a jar.
Whisk everything together, or if you've got some big lumps or just prefer a smoother result, blend it all up.
Adjust the balance, add salt, pepper or chilli flakes if you think it needs it (mine didn't).
Add a teaspoon or so of water if it's too thick.

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