I’m a huge fan of Asian food. Especially spicy Asian food. The flavour combinations particularly in Thai and Vietnamese cooking excite me no end, as they cover all bases including that all-important umami. The Ayurvedic cooking principals are the same: ensure salty, sweet, spicy, sour & umami (or savoury) flavours are all included in one meal, and your palate will be left completely satiated. I particularly love the sensation in my mouth when all this happens – chewing the food slowly and lingering on each flavour & appreciating it is something I attempt at every meal time.
This recipe for red Thai curry with pork subscribes to everything I just described above, and it’s so versatile; it can also be made with chicken, a game-y fish like yellowtail or even prawns.
What you’ll need: (Serves 4)
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 onion, peeled, halved & sliced into thick strips
1 tbsp red thai curry paste
Knob of ginger (about the size of your thumb), peeled & chopped
4 cloves of fresh garlic (use 2 if you have the large elephant ear type), smashed
5cm piece of lemongrass, chopped finely
1 bruised kaffir lime leaf (fresh is best, but dry is fine too)
1 red chilli, chopped (up to you whether you want to keep the seeds & membrane for extra heat)
1 tbsp mirin or rice wine vinegar
1-2 tsp fish sauce
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tin coconut milk
1/2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
200g pork fillet, trimmed and shaved into thin, bite-sized escalopes
Selection of vegetables – I used:
1 red pepper, julienned
2 courgettes, peeled into ribbons
4 yellow patty pans, sliced in half
1 1/2 cups baby pak choy leaves
1 cup bean sprouts
handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves
Heat a saucepan over a medium-high heat and once hot pour in the peanut oil. Toss in your onions & saute gently until onions soften and go transluscent. Add in the curry paste, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime leaf and chilli, and stir these flavours through the onions well. Once combined, toss in the mirin and the fish sauce. The pot will hiss and a puff of steam will escape. Try not to stand too close to the pot, as a face full of cooking fish sauce aromas is enough to envoke a gag reflex!
After the steam dies down, reduce the heat, throw in the tomatoes and put the lid of the saucepan on. Leave this for 8-10 minutes, so that the tomatoes soften and a sauce starts developing. If you like a nice smooth sauce, you can blend the mixture at this point with a hand-blender. I like rustic food, so left mine as it was. Pour in the tin of coconut milk and stir in the tablespoon of peanut butter. Ensure this dissolves completely. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust according to your preferences.
Just before you serve, bring your sauce up to the boil then add in the pork. Bring the sauce back up to a gentle boil and toss in your vegetables, leaving the sprouts and coriander for the very last second. The vegetables will basically blanch in the sauce, and retain all their colour and crunch. The pork will also cook quickly, due to the thickness of the escalopes. Serve your curry immediately with steamed jasmine rice, extra sprouts & torn basil leaves. Toasted chopped cashew nuts make for a fantastic garnish too!