Wednesday, April 7, 2010

wednesday night medicine

I feel like a shaman tonight, a witch doctor with this hot, brothy, soul cleansing dish, which is I believe, the cure to man flu ... one case confirmed as cured in Dublin this evening ... the coughing, cold ridden, suffering individual who lives here (although who is banished from the kitchen for crimes I cannot write about) did benefit, positively, from this curing and medicinal blend of goodness.

The photographs say it all really and this is super easy to prepare in advance. If you are having a dinner party, this will impress although I would advise increasing the amounts below as diners will want more.

So first make the paste - this will keep for about 2 days in the fridge - for two people, one sick (yeah right), one not, I combined:

2 lemon grass stalks, remove one outer layer and chop the more delicate inner shoots
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 small green chillis, de-seeded and chopped
one lump of ginger, about the diameter of a 2 euro coin in the round, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, chopped

1 tblsp nam pla, thai fish sauce, available even in tesco
the zest of one lime
the juice of one lime

If you have a small hand held blender, combine all the ingredients and whizz until you have a choppy, sharp, hot-tasting sauce. If you do not have a bender of any sort, finely chop as much as the ingredients as possible and, in a pestle and mortar, use some elbow grease and grind all the ingredients into a fine paste - easier said than done although if you have them chopped really finely initially this will help. I would imagine that if you are without pestle and mortar or whizzer, you can finely chop, add the ingredients to a freezer bag and pound for a bit. This should break down the fibres of all the ingredients and let the flavours infuse. It would be good if it looked like this - I used my small whizzer ...

So then when you have the paste made, you can do what you like, maybe add a stone and make thai stone curry, this paste will enhance the flavour of anything immediately and should be so spicy that your taste buds might as well take the evening off. This is the concentrated version.
Thai chefs simply put this paste into a large pan with some coconut milk and vegetable or chicken stock and slip in some diced chicken breasts.
Although it is perfectly legitimate to make this dish wholy vegetarian or with no vegetables at all and only chicken, to add a little more flavour and texture, I like to add both vegetables and chicken. This evening I used the following ...

In a little sunflower or light vegetable oil, sautee some small brocolli florets, a small handful of mange tout and some mushrooms, I used chestnut but shitake would be better. Add the chicken fillet pieces and fry for five minutes with a little added paste until the chicken has sealed in some of the flavour. Add the half of the remainder of the curry paste.
Add one 400ml tin of coconut milk (you can use half fat if you like) and 400ml of vegetable stock or bouillon - put a vegetable stock cube into the empty coconut milk tin and add boiling water, disolve and add to the chicken and vegetables.

Add another handful of torn sweet basil leaves and chopped coriander and stir.
Now for tasting - if you like it very spicy add the rest of the paste, if you like it less spicy, leave it as it is - at this point you are in control of the flavour, so taste and then decide.
Simmer for about ten minutes and meanwhile, boil some basmati or thai jasmine rice in some salted, boiling water.

Serve immediatley to the sick and under-loved, just like this, and it will change things almost immediately...

So, men with flu, women with flu, women or men in need of love from said women or men with flu, make this, or the best way - just make it for yourself. I can guarantee that it will make one feel better than one was before one ate it.

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