Thai beef panang curry

Thai beef panang is a great introduction to cooking Thai at home. It tends to be milder than a lot of Thai curries but can easily be adjusted if you prefer a bit more fire in your curries! Other meats, or even, tofu can be used in place of beef however this stands up the spices well so do give it a go. Peanut is included in this recipe as it traditionally is- remember it is important to find plain peanuts and not ones that have been already salted or roasted.

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Ingredients- serves 4
Vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
Handful of pea aubergines or chopped baby aubergines
Few kaffir lime leaves- deveined and chopped
4 minute steaks
1- 2 red finger chilli peppers- deseeded and finely chopped

For the spice paste

2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coarse sea salt
Few peppercorns
3 dried red finger chillies- soaked in water until softened
1 piece of fresh lemongrass- finely chopped
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
3 garlic cloves- chopped
Small piece of galangal- finely sliced
1 1/2 tbsp shelled plain peanuts
Few kaffir lime leave- deveined and finely chopped
2 tsp shrimp paste

1.You can make the curry paste well in advance to save you time later; it stores well in the fridge too. Take a small pan and dry fry the coriander and cumin seeds for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until the spices start to release their fragrance.

2. Place the toasted spices and all the other ingredients, apart from the shrimp paste, in a small processor or pestle and mortar and blitz until they form a paste. The shrimp paste needs to be cooked before adding to the mix so it doesn’t taste as strong. do this by taking a small piece of kitchen foil and loosely wrapping the shrimp paste in it; cook in a dry frying pan for a minute before adding to the spice paste and combining well.

3. When you are ready to make the curry, take a large pan and heat a glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Take the curry paste you have made already and fry for a few minutes until the flavours begin to be released. Pour in the coconut milk and add the before bringing to the boil. Add in the pea or baby aubergines, kaffir lime leaves and palm sugar and simmer for around 10 minutes to allow the spices develop and the sugar dissolves.

4. Keep the pan on low and add strips of minute steak; they will cook in a few minutes in the curry so keep an eye on them. When the beef is done to your liking, divide the curry between four bowls and top with fresh red chilli or extra peanut (adjust according to taste). Serve with jasmine rice.

Classic beef panang curry- bursting with flavour to wake up your tastebuds!

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Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai

Pad thai is a classic street food dish that can be tweaked and adapted to please even the most fussy of eaters. As long as it is packed with delicious noodles and flavours then the world is your oyster- or crab and prawn in this instance. I have also added tofu in for extra texture- if you don’t routinely use it then do give it a go! You may well be surprised. I have chosen a firm tofu here which I think is the best way to introduce yourself to the bean curd world. The key to a perfect pad thai is in the preparation. Once the you start, it happens relatively quickly so you really do need to prep everything beforehand.

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Ingredients- serves 2 hungry people
2 large eggs
4 spring onions cut on the diagonal
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 30ml boiling water
2 tbsp palm sugar
125g firm tofu cut into 2cm cubes
30g grated ginger
2 red chillies finely chopped
1 banana shallot finely sliced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
150g raw king prawns deveined and roughly chopped
100g rice noodles
100g white crabmeat
75g beansprouts
10 chives cut into 3 cm lengths
50g peanuts roughly chopped
Small handful of Thai basil and coriander finely chopped

1. Beat the eggs lightly and add a tablespoon of the fish sauce before setting aside ready for later. Read the instructions for your rice noodles at this stage as some need soaking for longer than others. Prepare according to instructions all ready for later.

2. Take the tamarind water and add the palm sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir well to ensure the sugar dissolves; if you find it has not fully dissolved you can add a splash of boiling water to help things along.

3. Place a large wok over a medium/ high heat and add 2 tsp of vegetable or groundnut oil. Add the tofu cubes, in a couple of batches if needed so as to not overcrowd the pan, and fry off until golden all over. Set aside to blot of kitchen paper.

4. Next you need to cook the garlic, chillies, ginger, shallots and spring onion until softening. You could also add a piece of finely sliced lemongrass at this stage of you like.

5. Pop in the prawns and the tamarind water to the wok and cook for a few seconds to make sure the prawns are coated. Add the noodles back into the wok and cook for a minute or so, again ensuring the strands are coated in the tamarind. Next into the wok goes the crab, bean sprouts, chive, basil, coriander and tofu. Toss gently to heat through. At this stage I then pushed the noodle mixture to one side in the wok and added the beaten eggs. Beat them in the wok until it begins to scramble and then you can mix it all the way through the rest of the noodles so the egg is well dispersed. Heat until the noodles are warm, the tofu is reheated and the prawns are a delicate blush pink.

Divide between 2 bowls and serve with a garnish of chopped peanut and you can add some roasted chilli flakes for an extra bit of spice or some extra chives if you like.

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai- a satisfyingly savoury dish that will leave you wanting more!

Spicy prawn noodle broth

Spicy prawn noodle soup is like a giant hug in a bowl for the soul and the stomach. It combines the sweetness of prawns, the freshness of vegetables, the lightness of broth with a punch! I made my own stock from prawn shells and a few additions as you will see however if you are short on time you could use a readymade stock but it really is worth the effort to do your own.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the stock

250g shell on king prawns
Litre of water
Knob of fresh ginger
4 spring onions- cut into thirds
Fresh piece of lemongrass- left whole
1 red chilli- sliced and deseeded (depending on how spicy you like it!)
1 fresh lime
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2tsp palm sugar

For the noodles
150g rice noodles
Handful of sugar snap peas- sliced on the diagonal
Handful of bamboo shoots- sliced on the diagonal
2 heads of pak choi- white parts finely sliced and leaves shredded

1. Kick off by removing the prawns from their shells. Take a large, deep saucepan and add a splash of vegetable oil and heat this over a high heat. Cook the prawn shells until they turn pink. Add a litre of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave this for half an hour before straining and reserving the water- you can discard the shells at this stage. Add the water back into a clean saucepan and infuse with the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion; these will all be removed later and won’t be in the final dish so sling them in and off you go! Simmer again for at least 30 minutes but longer if you can so the flavours can develop.

2. When you are nearly ready to use the stock, remove the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion and discard the prawn shells. Skim off any impurities from the surface of the stock and strain well. Now comes the time to season the stock so you must taste as you go. Add the soy sauce, fish stock and palm sugar as stated in the ingredients list but tweak to suit your tastes. Fish sauce and soy will add the salty edge the broth needs so go easy. Give a squeeze of lime to add a little acidity.

3. In a separate pan, add a splash of oil and heat over a medium heat. Add the sugar snap peas, bamboo and the white part of the pak choi. If you like a spicy broth you should add the chilli in at this stage too; if you prefer it to be milder then add it in at the end to serve. Cook the vegetables for a couple of minutes before adding the broth back into the pan. Bring it back to a simmer before adding the prawns and pak choi leaves to cook. The prawns will go blush pink when ready.

4. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and drain well. I give mine a minute less than it suggests as it will be in the broth so you don’t want soggy noodles. Take large bowls for serving and divide the noodles between them. Ladle over the finished broth and finish with a little extra chilli or coriander if you like.

Spicy prawn noodle broth- the perfect meal for a chilly evening as autumn looms!

Aromatic Thai roasted duck legs with jasmine rice

Bring a new lease of life to duck legs! If you’re fed up with basic roasted duck then have a go at this! All the traditional Thai flavours are in this recipe which go well with the richness of the duck and freshens it up.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck legs
3 spring onions- shredded
100- 150g jasmine rice

For the marinade:
1 stick of lemongrass- finely chopped
1 lime- zested and juiced
1/2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
Handful of coriander- chopped
2 shallots- finely chopped
Small piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 /2 tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped

1. This recipe can be done on the day you want it but prepare the duck the day before if you have the time but it’s delicious either way. Place the duck legs in a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients in with it. Combine the ingredients well and off you go! Season well and cover before leaving in the fridge overnight or for as long as you can. I have used fresh lime in the marinade to add an acidity however kaffir lime leaves would also work to infuse.

2. When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and place the duck legs on a baking tray or rack. Cook for around 40 minutes until the duck is cooked through and the juices run clear. Check it halfway and cover loosely with foil if it is getting a bit too golden too quickly.

3. Just before the duck is ready, cook the jasmine rice as per instructions. I like to add in 2 shredded spring onions to add extra flavour. Serve with the duck and scatter over the remaining onion and coriander. You may like to serve some other vegetables on the side such as sugar snap peas or Asian greens- or both! I like to either steam or griddle the greens with a splash of sesame oil to finish; a great accompaniment for a range of dishes!

Aromatic Thai duck legs- a sure fire hit!