Thai curry pastes are just one of those things I stopped buying after starting paleo. Always full of sugar, colourings and questionable e-numbers, they just never seemed feasible on so many levels of dietary unfriendliness. However in recent months the homemade version has become a freezer staple of mine. Yes, it requires a bit of investment in time and a plethora of ingredients, but given that it leads to so many quick and delicious meals, I firmly believe it’s worth it.
I’m not going to pretend I’ve invented my own wonderful paste recipe: as far as I’m concerned the wonderful Nigel Slater has perfected it right here, and I have no improvements on this. It’s spectacular. Having said that, if you want to tweak the flavours a bit, just do some experimenting with ingredient proportions until you find your favourite balance. Just don’t do my trick of creating something delicious but forgetting to write it down…
So once you’ve made your paste, freeze it (99p stores has brilliant little plastic containers) and have it ready to go. This post is a few of my favourite things to do with the curry paste to give you super-fast and super-delicious meals with all your time consuming prep work done on a lazy Sunday afternoon two months ago. No reason why the sugar-eaters should monopolise the convenience options…
Thai Green Curry Obvious place to start, right? This is one of my standby meals for when I have a completely empty fridge and have to rely on emergency frozen peas and prawns. The process is spectacularly simple. Throw the paste (about 1tbsp per person) and your main ingredients into a pan with some oil and let everything sizzle for a few minutes. Add half a can of coconut milk, and a mugful of stock if you have it (otherwise don’t worry about it – chuck water in if it looks a bit too dry) and let it bubble until everything is cooked. Sometimes it’s more of a soup, sometimes it’s a bit more of a sauce . Either way it’s quick and tasty!
Some yummy things to throw in your curry are below. Mix & match according to your fridge/freezer contents.
- Leftover cooked meat/fish – add at the end if you’re worried about it going too tough
- Defrosted frozen prawns
- Frozen peas
- Pretty much any veg – green leaves work well (although throw them in with the liquid)
- Big chunks of sweet potato, squash or turnip, as they soak up all the flavour and add a bit of bulk
Foil-baked Fish Even less effort than the curry. Any kid of fish will work really, but I tend to use it as a method to add a bit more excitement to cheaper boring white fish. River cobbler is doing it for me right now! Place your piece of fish in the middle of a decent sized piece of foil. Put a decent sized dollop of curry paste on top, add a drizzle of olive oil, and scrunch the edges up to seal everything in. Don’t let the steam or the juice escape! Shove it on a baking tray and put it into a 200C oven for about 20 minutes. If you have a huge bit of fish it might take a tiny bit longer – carefully unwrap and give it a bit of a prod; if it’s not all opaque and cooked just wrap it up again and put it back in for a few minutes.
If you want to make it a whole meal in one you can add your veg to the parcel as well. Just make sure you don’t use anything that’ll take longer to cook than the fish or you’ll end up in trouble. Spinach/green leaves in general work well, as do a few slices of courgette. A few bits of shellfish won’t do any harm either.
Fish/Prawn Cakes I saved the best til last. These are a bit more effort but amazingly delicious. They deliver that wonderful crispy and umami food experience that I miss from crisps and spring rolls and all of those things.
I did say a bit more effort, but I promise it’s not much. You need paste, and fish and/or prawns (raw ones, or things will end up a bit chewy). We use about 250g of fish and 1 tbsp of paste per person, but we’re quite greedy and you might not want to eat that much! Just stick to those rough proportions and you’ll be fine. It’s not rocket science – just some fish and some paste and it’ll all be fine. Anyway, whack it all in the food processor and blitz until reasonably smooth.
Heat up a frying pan or wok with some coconut oil until a drop of fishbatter sizzles on contact. You’ll find your mixture is far too runny to shape anyway, so just spoon dollops straight in to the pan like tiny fishy pancakes. Don’t worry if you get a few odd shaped bits poking out – these tend to go crispiest anyway. Flip over when they’re golden brown and do the other side.
We eat this with a salad of carrot, cucumber, peppers and spring onion, with a few toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of lime juice. A few bits of chopped chilli & chopped ginger quickly cooked in a hot pan with a tablespoon of honey makes a good dipping sauce if you’re in to that kind of thing…