This is called “jungle curry” because the abundance of green ingredients call to mind a jungle. This one is hot, folks, but you can turn down the heat by using fewer chilies. The complex flavour is achieved by including shrimp paste alongside the more traditional curry ingredients. Once you’ve chopped, diced, and made the paste, there aren’t many steps to take. This is the key to great Thai food — thoughtful preparations in advance, allowing for quick cooking once you’re ready to start. The French call this mise-en-place.
- 10 to 15 green bird’s eye chilies
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped lemongrass
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped unpeeled galangal
- 1 tsp (5 ml) chopped cilantro root
- 1 tsp (5 ml) freshly chopped lime leaves (remove centre vein before chopping)
- 1 tsp (5 ml) shrimp paste
- pinch of kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 red bird’s eye chilies, seeds removed
- vegetable oil for deep-frying, about 2 cups (500 ml)
- 6 shallots, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) slices and slices separated
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) all-purpose flour
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable stock
- 10 baby canned corn, cut in half
- 12 to 15 snow peas
- 4 trout fillets, about 2 oz. (60 g) each, skin on, scaled, and pin bones removed
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- fresh sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
- Place all of the ingredients in a mini food chopper, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, and grind to a fine paste. If you’re using a food chopper or food processor, you may have to add 1 to 2 tbsp (15–30 ml) of water to help it purée. Set aside.
- Pound the garlic, chilies, and a pinch of coarse sea salt in a mortar and pestle until smooth.
- Line a plate with paper towels. In a wok or a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil to 350°F (177°C). On a plate, toss the shallots with the flour lightly just to coat. Deep-fry the shallots until golden and crispy, remove using a slotted spoon or spider. Drain on the paper towels. Drain the oil, and set aside 1 tablespoon (15 mL) for the curry. (Use the rest for another purpose.)
For the curry:
- Heat the reserved 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil from the deep-fried shallots in the wok over medium-high heat. Fry the garlic paste, stirring regularly until golden.
- Add the curry paste, and fry until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, if using, and then the fish sauce. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then add the corn, snow peas, and fish. Reduce the heat to medium-low (or a gentle simmer). Cook until the fish is just done, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Finish with the crispy shallots and cilantro. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.