Northern Thai Chicken Curry

This has a distinctive flavour of Northern Thailand. There’s a heavy use of ginger which is a characteristic of the region. The curry paste (Kua Red Paste) is also slightly different to the ususal red curry paste. The use of turmeric gives a stunning bright orange appearance. What isn’t so stunning is the bright orange hands I ended up with for 3 days. I looked like I smoked 300 fags a day. I urge caution while handling fresh turmeric. Thai food is fast becoming my favourite (of the month).

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
For the Kua curry paste:
(will make 15 tablespoons – which is more than you’ll need, but it freezes well for later use.)
10 small dried red chillies (soaked for 30 minutes)
5 large dried red chillies (soaked for 30 minutes)
1 teaspoon salt
20g shallots (chopped)
50g garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon galangal (grated)
4 lemon grass stalks (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric (grated) (or 1 tablespoon powdered turmeric)
a few Thai basil leaves (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:
Put all the ingredients into a food processor with 2 tablespoons water and blend into a smooth paste. Alternatively, do it with a hand blender or in a pestle and mortar. You can freeze the paste in 2 tablespoon portions and use them at a later date. They’ll freeze for months.

For the curry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 onions (roughly chopped)
3 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
5cm piece of ginger (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons curry paste
1kg chicken thighs (skin off) cut into 1/3 portions
1/2 teaspoon salt
450ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 lime (juice of)

DIRECTIONS:
Heat the oil in a wok or large pan over a moderate heat. Gently fry the onions, garlic and ginger for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the curry paste and stir once or twice. Add the chicken and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on all sides. Add the salt and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice just before serving.

SERVING:
Sprinkle with Thai basil and serve with boiled rice.

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