Khmer Curry

by aleksandaurelie

Khmer Curry Paste
3 tbsp oil
2 in (5 cm) galangal root, peeled and sliced into shreds
2 in (5 cm) turmeric root, peeled and sliced into shreds
2 in (5 cm) krachai (Chinese keys), peeled and chopped (6 cloves garlic is an alternative)
3 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, finely chopped
4 small red shallots, peeled and chopped
10 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tsp fish paste (prahok)

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. Add all the ingredients and fry until golden brown. Transfer the mixture to a mortar or a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.

Makes 1 cup (250 g). Will keep in the freezer for several months.

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Spice Paste
4 star anise pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
2-3 dried red finger-length chili peppers, soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained, deseeded and sliced
1 tsp dried shrimp paste
4 tbsp Khmer curry paste (see above)

Ground the star anise and coriander seeds in a food processor, then transfer them to a mortar and pound them into a fine powder. Add the soaked chillies, dried shrimp paste, and the Khmer curry paste and pound into a fine paste.

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Curry
1/4 cup (60 ml) oil

2 tbsp annatto seeds (optional, used as a natural food coloring)
1 lb (500 g) firm white fish fillets (sea bass, haddock, cod, perch, tilapia), chicken, or beef, cut into large chunks
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves or 10 dried leaves
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar (dark brown sugar is an alternative)
3/4 cup (100 g) green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-in (4-cm) pieces
1 slender Asian eggplant, sliced
2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat and add the annatto seeds. When the oil starts to smoke and has a red color, strain it and return the red oil to the wok or skillet, discarding the seeds.

Heat the red oil over medium-high heat and fry the fish until cooked through. Remove the fish and drain it on paper towels. Add the spice paste to the wok and fry it until it is lightly browned and fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium and add the kaffir lime leaves, carrots, sweet potato, onion, fish sauce, and sugar. Mix well and add a little water to moisten. Stir-fry for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the green beans, eggplant, and the fried fish and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Check the seasoning, adding more fish sauce or sugar to taste, remove the dried kaffir lime leaves (if used), and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

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