Red Curry of Whole Baby Chicken & Minced Prawns with Sweet Basil & Asian Vegetables

TR_RED_CURRY_OF_BABY_CHICKEN_AND_MINCED_PRAWNS_WITH_SWEET_BASIL_AND_VEGETABLES_0637This one has been a strong favourite from customers since even the pop-up days of Farang, the whole roast chicken screams ‘roast dinner’, when marinated in a spicy red curry it screams even louder ‘Farang’. Sharing food and enjoying the experience ‘family style’ is how it’s done in Thailand and this dish is built to share so get stuck in. I’ve always used baby chicken in the restaurant to make this, which are perfect for sharing between two, however it works deliciously with larger chickens if you adjust the cooking times to suit. It’s a simple way to infuse the whole chicken with the flavours of the red curry. Serve this carved up in front of friends or family with bowls of rice and no one will be disappointed. Like in this recipe, you can cook the chicken straight away however for a fuller affect, leave the chicken marinating in red curry paste overnight before roasting.

Serves 2 / GF
1 baby chicken, roughly 250-300g
200g, red curry paste (for best results make it yourself, recipe in my book ‘Cook Thai’ 😉
1 tablespoon palm sugar
50g, prawns, shells, heads removed and de-veined, minced using a meat cleaver, keep the heads and prawns to one side
20g, baby corn, sliced into thin roll-cuts
20g, white daikon, peeled and sliced into thin roll-cuts and braised in water until (optional)
2, long red chillies, sliced into roll cuts
2, long green chillies, sliced into roll cuts
20g, green beans, topped and tailed, cut into 2cm long chunks
250ml, prawn stock, the recipe tells you how to make this
150ml, coconut oil, crack (vegetable oil can be used instead but is not as tasty)
200ml, coconut cream
2 tablespoons, wild ginger, krachai, peeled and thinly sliced (regular ginger will work too)
10g, Thai basil, picked
10g, coriander, washed and picked
2-3 tablespoons, fish sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon, sea salt

Firstly, get all the prawn heads that you collected and add them to 300ml of water. Bring this to the boil and then turn down to a simmer, make sure to skim the scum off the surface of the water, simmer for 20 minutes and then strain to produce a light prawn stock. Meanwhile heat the coconut oil in a wok, when bubbling, add the red curry paste and keep stirring and scraping regularly until paste begins to split like scrambled eggs. You will also notice that the smell of the ingredients changes from raw, to fragrant. I find as you cook out curry pastes you can smell each ingredient cooking at different times, I assume this is based on the water content of each vegetable, eventually the smell becomes one which is a clear sign that it is ready. At this point add the palm sugar and continue to scrape and cook for a further minute until the paste has darkened slightly, then add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and allow to cook into the paste for one minute, don’t add too much as it is strong and you can always add, but never take away.

Now it’s time to let the curry out. Add 200ml of the prawn stock and 100ml of the coconut cream. Now remove half of this curry paste and allow to cool, once cool coat the chicken in the seasoned and cooked curry paste thoroughly, at this stage you can leave the chicken to marinate for a few hours, ideally overnight or you can cook straight away. Pre-heat an oven to 220 degrees centigrade and proceed to roast the chicken for 35-40 minutes until the skin is crisping and the curry paste marinade has become slightly charred and smells delicious. Check that the juices are running clear and that the chicken is hot throughout before removing from the oven. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

In the meantime, return to the rest of the cooked-out curry paste. Bring this back to a simmer and then add the daikon, green beans and baby corn. Stir to combine and then cover and bring to a simmer, cook out for around five minutes until all vegetables are cooked. At this point the curry would have thickened a little, so finish off the remaining prawn stock and coconut cream and add the minced prawns. Cook out for 3 minutes until all prawns are pink in colour and cooked throughout. Next add Thai basil, green and red chilli roll-cuts, fish sauce to taste and sliced krachai, then fold these ingredients in and serve immediately. The curry should be spicy, creamy, aromatic, sweet, fishy and salty all at the same time, adjust in the direction that suits you.

Serve the chicken whole with the prawn and vegetable curry over the top and if you like, a few sprigs of Thai basil on top for decoration, serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Cheers for reading,

Sebby Holmes Head Chef / Director, Award winning Thai Restaurant Farang London

Sticky pork belly with salted roast pumpkin and crispy shallots

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Photo taken by Tom Regester from Sebby Holmes, Cook Thai, published by Kyle Books 2017

Ever since I tasted sticky pork for the first time when I started my journey in Thai food at the begging bowl it quickly become one of my favourite things to eat. It’s rich, sweet, salty yet savoury flavours make this dish a perfect one to impress friends. Me and the team at Farang like to smoke the pumpkin over cherry wood, however a salt roast is a little easier to do at home without setting any alarms off or make your house smell like a bonfire. In Thailand this is often eaten with rice and green papaya salad but its great just as it is.

Serves 2-3 people

300g, pork belly, skin removed

150g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks

5g coarse sea salt

2 fresh bay leaves

1-star anise

1 x 4cm long piece of cassia bark (cinnamon sticks will do)

300g palm sugar (dark soft brown sugar can also be used)

100ml oyster sauce

50ml dark soy sauce

100ml fish sauce (depends on pork fat content and taste)

1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot and torn to release flavour (this can be left out if you cannot find one)

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

4 banana shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

500ml, sunflower oil, for deep frying the shallots

Firstly get the pumpkin and the pork belly ready for cooking. In two separate boiling pots bring some salted water to the boil, once boiling turn down to a simmer and add the whole chunk of pork belly into one pan and the pumpkin to the other. Cook the pumpkin for around 4-5 minutes and then remove and refresh under cold water, it should be softened but still very firm and holding its shape, not mushy, at this stage sprinkle the pumpkin with the coarse sea salt. Carefully cook the pork belly for around 12-15 minutes making sure not to boil the water whilst the pork is in it, the slower it is boiled the more tender it will be, remove once the pork has cooked throughout and all impurities have been cooked out of it, leave aside to cool slightly. Once cool, chop the pork into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks.

Next make the sauce. In a separate oven proof pan add the sugar, oyster sauce, dark soy, pandan leaf, cassia bark, star anise and 50ml of the fish sauce to start. Heat all of this together gently and once melted add the chopped pork belly and stir well, making sure to coat all of the pork belly. Next place some parchment paper over the top of the pork belly mix and place in an oven at 160 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes. At this stage remove from the oven and add the blanched pumpkin and delicately fold it into the mix making sure not to mas up any pork or pumpkin, then return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes. Check the pork before you remove from the oven it should be slightly caramelised and tender, the pumpkin should be soft and ready to serve at this point, be careful handling it as it will be soft to the touch.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a medium pan on a high heat (roughly 180 degrees centigrade), once this is hot place one piece of shallot into the oil to ensure it is not too hot, the shallot should bubble and fizz in a controlled manner, if it hisses then the oil is too hot so turn it off and allow to cool for a few minutes before going again. Fry the shallots until they are beginning to turn golden brown and then remove and strain on a clean tray with kitchen towel to get rid of all excess oil. Use a fork to pick apart the shallots as they tend to cook together in clumps, as the shallots cool they will crisp up and become perfect for garnish.

Serve the sticky pork and pumpkin straight out of the oven, topped with the sliced spring onions and the crispy shallots. For the best experience eat immediately and as suggested above eat with salad and some Thai sticky rice for mopping up all the rich juices.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like the recipe, please do let me know your comments if you cook it up, (unless you don’t like it of course, ha- you can keep that to yourself). Hopefully I’ll see you in Farang soon for a bite.

Cheers,

@sebbyholmes

(Head chef / Director of  Farang London, Highbury, London N5 2XE)