There was a time when I felt like every time I went to someone’s house for dinner we would have Thai Green Curry. As a result I have completely stopped cooking it – you know what they say about too much of a good thing. But it is one of my favourites and yesterday I had the craving. I’d like to think that my culinary skills have improved a bit from university and as such I decided to make the paste from scratch. It turns out this really isn’t much extra work – the bugger is sourcing the ingredients. Although I managed to find everything I needed in Waitrose I suspect the Chinese supermarket would have saved me about 20 quid – note to self for next time.
This is definitely one of those dishes where it is worth giving your wine choice a bit of extra thought as it really does make such a difference. Spice is a tricky thing to match wine with. A Thai curry does not have the same bulky, heavy spiciness that an Indian curry might; the flavours are much more delicate and aromatic and as such it needs a wine that will allow these flavours to shine through while standing up to the any spice. I picked up a Gewürztraminer (Ghe-vertz-tram-in-er) and a dry Riesling and tried both with everyone alongside the curry.
Gewürztraminer is the most aromatic grape variety and can be quite surprising for the uninitiated. For me you can always spot it a mile off as it smells distinctively of flowers and lychees. This one, the Villa Maria Private Bin Gewürztraminer, is not as floral as I expected it to be but the lychees are definitely there, the palate is relatively full bodied with a spicy note to back up the delicate flavours. The intricate flavours of the curry are beautifully enhanced by the wine. The lack of acidity means it struggles with the spice a bit but personally I think it works.
The second wine is the Cave de Beblenheim Grafenreben Riesling (a mouthful I know). I was annoyed actually as the Riesling selection was pretty rubbish and I ideally wanted something Australian or German but this one did the job admirably. I should emphasise that this wine is DRY! The thing that makes it work so well with the Thai Green Curry is the searingly high acidity. The nose and palate have a strong minerality with a more citrus edge on the palate.
I suspect that if you tried either of these wines on their own without food you would pass them up as not being your ‘thing’ but trust me, it is really really worth giving it a shot.
The curry recipe is from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries and is a winner – I maybe would have kept it to only 3 chillies in hindsight but I can be a bit wet about spice sometimes. I have altered it slightly from the original; you can change the vegetables to whatever you fancy and this would of course work just as well with chicken. If you can’t be bothered to make the paste yourself the readymade stuff is fine but the result is nowhere near as good, nor as green…
Enough for 5
- banana shallots – 2
- groundnut oil – 2 tablespoons
- pak choi – 2
- sugar snaps – 1 pack
- okra – 1 pack
- fresh green peppercorns – 2 tablespoons
- cherry tomatoes, halved – 15
- coconut milk – 1 can
- nam pla (Thai fish sauce) – a tablespoon
- raw king prawns, butterflied – 300g
For the green spice paste:
- green bird’s eye chillies, stalks removed – 4
- lemon grass, chopped – 2 heaped tablespoons (2 large stalks)
- lime leaves – 6
- the roots of 4 coriander sprigs
- garlic, finely chopped – 3 large cloves
- ginger, pealed and finely chopped – a 50g lump
- coriander leaves – 6 heaped tablspoons
- fresh mint leaves and Thai basil – 20g in total
- coriander leaves – a handful
- large lime leaves – 2
- steamed white rice, to serve
To make the paste whack all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz with a couple of tablespoons of water.
Peel and finely chop the shallots. Warm two tablespoons of the oil in a shallow pan or wok, then add the shallots and cook them over a moderate to high heat until they are golden and soft. Then add the veg along with the green peppercorns, letting them soften. Remove all this from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the spice paste. Let this cook off briefly – the water will evaporate – and then add the cherry tomatoes. Continue cooking for a few minutes and then return the shallots and veg back to the pan and pour in the coconut milk. Season with the nam pla. Slip the prawns into the sauce and leave to cook for a minute or two – no longer – until they are pink and opaque.
Roughly chop the mint, basil and coriander leaves. Roll and finely shred the lime leaves, then spoon the curry on to the rice on serving plates and divide the herds amongst them.
ps. I have linked the Villa Maria Gewürztraminer to Waitrose as that’s where I bought it from but I have just realised that it is actually cheaper at Majestic at the moment – click here to go to their page.