I’m a massive fan of Melbourne Thai chef Pla Liamthong. It’s not just that I love her two casual restaurants, Middle Fish in Carlton and Jing Jing in Dandenong, but because she has a passion for demystifying and simplifying Thai food. She’s a recent convert to Thermomix and I love her enthusiasm when she realises that she can quickly and easily make things that took her mother and grandmother all day.
In this video, she shares a classic southern Thai curry paste which can be used in stir-fries, jungle curries and in coconut curries like this one. Pla starts traditional, then turns her curry absolutely unconventional by serving it with chick peas, which are unknown in Thailand, as well as chicken and bamboo. You know why she adds the chick peas? Because her lovely Aussie carpenter husband wants some extra protein on his plate. Pla to the rescue!
Pla’s message is: don’t worry too much about authenticity, use what you’ve got and keep life simple.
Have you cooked with fresh turmeric before? It looks like fresh ginger but is carroty orange inside. See Tips below about where to find it.
Serves: 4 as a main (add more chicken and vegetables to serve more)
Time: 35 minutes
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 30 grams dried birdseye chillies (this is hot! reduce if desired, or use larger, milder chillies)
- 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
- 10 cloves garlic
- 60 grams fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Gang Prik curry paste
- 560 grams coconut milk
- 2 big pinches salt
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 2-4 chicken thighs, diced
- 1 tin chick peas, drained
- 1 small tin bamboo shoots, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- pinch sugar
- 5 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
- handful basil leaves
- cooked rice, to serve
1. Place peppercorns into mixing bowl. Blitz 10 sec/speed 9.
2. Add chilli, lemongrass, garlic and turmeric. Blend 5 sec/speed 9. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl with spatula. Blend 5 sec/speed 6. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. You’ll only use 1 tablespoon in this recipe, so freeze the rest in small batches. No need to clean mixing bowl (yay!).
3. Return 1 tablespoon curry paste to mixing bowl. Add coconut milk, salt and shrimp paste.
4. Place chicken in Varoma dish. Add chick peas and bamboo shoots to Varoma tray. Place Varoma into position and cook 20 min/Varoma/speed 1.
To serve, arrange some chicken in base of bowl. Top with chick peas and bamboo shoots, then place remainder of chicken on top. Pour over some curry sauce. Season with fish sauce and sugar, then top with Kaffir lime and basil.
- Small birdseye chillies are very hot; reduce quantity or use larger, milder chillies if you don’t like your curry too spicy.
- Freeze remainder of curry paste in small portions for up to two months.
- Shrimp paste can be purchased from supermarkets and Asian grocers. It’s often called ‘belachan’. Seal remainder up tight because it’s pretty stinky! It can be stored in the pantry.
- Pla recommends chicken thighs for Thai curries as they are more succulent but chicken breasts would work too, as would beef strips or tofu.
- Fresh turmeric is available at some supermarkets, produce markets and Asian grocers (ask if they have it in the freezer if you don’t see it). It’s also at Ripe Organics and Buy Fruit (Queensland), Boatshed Markets (Perth), Salamanca Fresh (Hobart) and by mail order here (Australia, excluding Tasmania and West Australia). Do you know another good source? Let me know and I’ll add it.
- Wondering about bamboo shoots? They’re in supermarkets.
- Same with Kaffir lime leaves.
- Pla’s stir-fried kangaroo version is another great way to use this paste!
- Replace chicken with any meat or fish.
- For a meat-free version, replace chicken with tofu, mushrooms, broccoli or cauliflower and leave out the shrimp paste.
Looking for more Asian inspired dishes? If you’ve got Pla Liamthong’s Gang Prik curry paste in the freezer, you are five minutes away from Gang Prik with Stir Fried Kangaroo – a deliciously spicy dish. Also try Pla’s Kha Nhom Jeen Nam Prik, a warming coconut curry sauce to serve with prawns, rice noodles and fresh vegetables. There’s also my slow-cooked, set and forget meal, Thai Beef Ribs with Coconut Rice and Coleslaw and my Pineapple-spiked Vietnamese Lamb Salad.
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