Ok, I know I brought you a recipe for Thai curry not long ago, but this soup is an absolute must! And granted, it’s not the most summery of dishes, but once you’ve tasted the insanely powerful and addictive flavours bursting out of the bowl, you won’t care. Hell, you won’t even know what season it is! Yes folks, it really is that good.
Now, I can’t take all of the credit: this soup is an amalgamation of countless recipes found online and in various cook books, with a few of my own additions and subtractions (as most good recipes usually are).
I was actually trying to recreate a soup that my mum and I are in love with from Chao Baby in Manchester (the little sister of Chaophraya). We pay £15 for their otherwise mediocre buffet simply for the Thai soup. It’s incredible. We sit and work our way through bowl after bowl with a set of extremely satisfied smiles on our faces. And I was over the bloomin’ moon when this one turned out to be a cat’s whisker from Chao’s scrumptious offering.
I adapted this recipe to suit my taste, so I’d encourage you to do the same. I like a certain sweetness to my food, so one of the additions I made was a little pouring of agave syrup (natural sweetener). Personally I think this makes a huge difference and you should leave it in, but then I add sugar to curry, peas and bolognaise, so feel free to listen to your own palate.
Some recipes call for carrots and bean sprouts, but I’m not a fan and instead used tenderstem broccoli and asparagus for a bit more substance. An awful lot of recipes also include egg noodles, but I developed this when I went all paleo on your ass, so my version leaves them out. With the addition of cashews and a whole heap of veg, I think it’s mighty filling without the slippery suckers.
I tend to use way more curry paste than most recipes suggest because I like it spicy, but again, listen to your own palate. And whilst you can make Thai paste if you have time, I buy a quality brand that’s free from additives and only includes the incidents you’d put in if you made it yourself. I will make my own paste one day, but for now this serves me well.
To make this most marvellous of dishes, you’ll need:
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp coconut cream
3-4 tbsp authentic Thai curry paste
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
1 bunch coriander, chopped
2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
1 white onion, sliced
Asparagus and tenderstem broccoli, sliced (as much as you want)
Chicken stock (I’m not specifying quantity here because it depends how thick you like your soup and how far you want it to go; I’d suggest adding a ladle full at a time)
4-5 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp fish sauce (I hate fish, but this is an absolute must; it totally transforms the taste)
Zest and juice of one lime
A sprinkling of ground ginger
A few dashes of soy sauce
1 tbsp agave syrup
A handful of cashew nuts, toasted and chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
To make the best bowl of soup this side of Thailand:
Place a non-stick wok on a medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp coconut cream; when hot, throw in the curry paste, ginger, ¾ of the chilli, and a little of the coconut milk. Allow to sizzle for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk, cream and some stock
Next up, pop in the kaffir lime leaves so they have time to infuse, along with your chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, and agave syrup
Simmer for ten minutes before adding your onion; after five minutes throw in the asparagus and broccoli
After a further five minutes, stir in the chopped coriander and chopped and toasted cashews (leaving some of each to sprinkle over the top); stir and leave for a minute
When you’re happy with it, ladle into bowls and garnish with the chopped spring onions and remaining coriander leaves, cashews and red chilli
I’ve never been a huge fan of salads (read: I’ve never been a huge fan of healthy salads). I love nothing more than a hearty chicken Caesar, laden with croutons, drowning in dressing, and collapsing under a pile of parmesan. But I needed something healthier than my indulgent salady treat ― and that meant finding a dressing that would jazz things up a bit.
I started to think about the flavour combinations that bring a smile to my face; then a food memory bubbled happily to the surface ― that bloody gorgeous herby oily dippy thing they serve with the luscious bread in Gaucho (and the main reason I keep going back there, despite the bread being free and the rest of the menu being far, far from it).
After a quick Google, I was sad to find that they don’t disclose the recipe, but as I’m usually good at retaining fairly accurate food memories, I picked out what I thought were the main flavours, added a few flourishes of my own, and came up with a killer salad dressing. It’s punchy, packs a kick, and transforms any plate of salad!
To recreate the magic, you’ll need:
One garlic glove, crushed
One red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Coriander, mint, parsley, all finely chopped
A sprinkling of rock salt
Ground black pepper
This quantity makes enough for one plate of salad, so adjust accordingly if you’re feeding more than just yourself ― but don’t make batches in advance. You need to be incredibly careful when making your own flavoured oils because if the herbs (or whatever you add) start to go off, the results can be very dangerous (and can actually cause botchalism ― yikes).
To make the dressing, simply mix the ingredients together then drizzle generously over your salad. I served this with a variety of lettuce leaves, avocado and shredded beetroot. Simple and delicious.
I should probably preface this post with a grovelling apology for being so lax of late: things have been a little busy (read manic) both professionally and personally, and with a new fitness regime thrown in for good measure, my poor blog has born the brunt. But in the woods of Benjamin Franklin: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”, so we’ll leave the excuses there and get on with the recipe.
Thai beef coconut curry with paleo rice. But you can’t eat rice on the paleo diet, right? Well, no, but you can dice up cauliflower real small, fry it up with the holy trinity (onion, garlic and chilli), and create something even tastier.
I’ll admit that going paleo has been pretty tough; not because I don’t like the food, or because I’ve been having particular cravings for bread, pasta or noodles ― quite the opposite, I’ve barely missed them at all. Nope, the real sticking point is the planning, and quite often, the inconvenience. I like to eat out at the weekends, and finding something on the menu that’s ‘paleo friendly’ is damned hard. But we’re all allowed a break, so I don’t beat myself up too much about the weekend slip-ups. I have however experienced quite a few mid-week slips ups, simply through poor planning, so I am going to have to go back to my spreadsheet (yes, I have a meal planning spreadsheet) and get my arse well and truly in gear.
*Success story claxon*
However, on the one night that I did have the right ingredients to hand, I knocked up the best Thai curry I’ve ever eaten ― Thai restaurants included! It was also the first time I’d ever used steak in curry, which counts as a double success in my book.
To recreate this little bowl of magic, you’ll need the following (in varying quantities because I was cooking for one):
For the curry
Coconut oil for cooking
Steak (I used rump and bashed it with a rolling pin until thin and tenderised)
Thai red curry paste (you can make your own, but I buy an authentic ready-made paste with no additives ― just the ingredients you’d use if you had the time to make it yourself)
Can of coconut cream
Water or stock
Thai basil leaves (three-four)
Onion, tender stem or purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus, all cut into similar sized chunks
Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
Fresh chopped coriander
Zest and juice of one lime
Spring onions, finely chopped to garnish
Cashew nuts, chopped and lightly toasted
Agave syrup (a natural alternative to sugar)
For the rice
Coconut oil for cooking
Cauliflower florets, diced to resemble grains of rice
To make the magic happen:
Put your wok on a high heat and add a spoonful of coconut oil. When it’s melted and hot, add a spoonful of Thai curry paste (I actually use about four spoonfuls because I like a lot of flavour) and a spoonful of coconut cream, then cook for two minutes (this releases the flavours)
Meanwhile, and in a separate pan, heat some more coconut oil and fry your onion, chilli and garlic for two minutes, followed by your diced cauliflower. This takes about 20 minutes to cook through, so just stir occasionally whilst seeing to your curry
Now, back to the curry: cut your steak into strips and add to the paste; when sealed, add the rest of your coconut cream and a little stock or hot water, along with the Thai basil leaves. Allow to cook for a few minutes before throwing in your chopped vegetables
Next up squeeze in the juice and zest of one lime, a capful of fish sauce, a squeeze of agave syrup, a sprinkling of tamari (or soy sauce), and a chopped bunch of fresh coriander ― along with your chopped and toasted cashew nuts
Allow it to simmer whilst your paleo rice is cooking. When the cauliflower starts to brown and soften, pop in a bowl, pour the curry over the top, and garnish with chopped spring onion, chilli flakes, coriander leaves, and a few toasted cashews
It really is heaven on a plate!
Enjoy with a nice cold Thai beer. My favourite is Singha.