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Kaeng sai mai rong hai

The title of this note means "curry [or stew or soup] without tears"

If we have some prik kaeng (chili paste), and some basic ingredients,
then we can make curries, stews and soups easily and with a wide variety
of foods from the market.

The common thread of all these is to prespare a sauce base. Similar
sauces can be made from any Thai curry paste: the basic method is
simple: the paste is fried, dissolved in coconut milk, and a colorant,
taste extender and flavor element are added.

Note fried garlic in oil and fried shallots in oil are so basic that
most Thai cooks keep some ready made. It will keep in the fridge for two
or three months. It is best made in a small deep fat frier.

However if you don't have any put a tablespoon of oil in a medium hot
wok and stir fry a tablespoon of garlic (or shallots) until they just
change color and the oil becomes aromatic.

ingredients

1 tablespoon of fried garlic in oil
1 tablespoon of fried shallots in oil
4 tablespoons of red prik kaeng (chili paste)
1 cup of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of prik chi fa daeng (red jalapenas), sliced finely
2 tablespoons of 'ginger'
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
a pinch of sugar

method

In a wok heat (or cook) the garlic and shallots, and add the prik kaeng,
and stir until combined and aromatic. In a wok push it up the side of
pan away from the heat. If you are using a saucepan remove and set
aside.

Heat the coconut milk until nearly boiling and lower the heat. Add the
chili paste, a quarter at a time, and stir until dissolved.

Now add the remaining ingredients, and stir until heated through.

You can increase or reduce the shallots/garlic and chili paste together
by a factor of two (ie if you halve the chili paste, halve the garlic
and shallots also. If you double them double them all). Similarly the
jalapenas, ginger and fish sauce can be adjusted by up to a factor of
two to give the flavor balance you want.

'ginger' gives the dish and afterburn. You can use any mixture of khing
(common green ginger), kha (galangal), or kachai (lesser ginger) you
wish.

1: Curry without tears.

you can of course make the curry with any meat, poultry, fish or
vegetables you wish. This is for a simple kaeng phet kai (chicken
curry).

ingredients

one portion of red curry sauce (above)
1 cup of diced chicken
1 cup of bamboo shoots, julienned
2 tablespoons of lime leaves.

method

Heat the sauce. Add the bamboo shoots and cook for three or four
minutes, then add the chicken and lime leaves and cook until the chicken
is cooked through.

(If you choose to make this with beef instead you will need to cook the
meat for longer, so add it first, and cook until it just begins to be
tender, then add the bamboo).


2: Stew without tears

ingredients

one portion of red curry sauce (above)
1 cup of beef stock
1 cup of beef, diced
1 cup of broccoli, cut up into florets and sliced stems

method

In a medium pan bring the sauce and stock to a boil then turn down the
heat as low as it can go.

In a wok quickly stir fry the beef to seal it, and add it to the sauce.
Poach it for 30 minutes to an hour until it is tender, then add the
vegetables, turn up the heat and stir until the vegetables are barely
cooked.

3: Soup without tears

ingredients

one portion of red curry sauce
2 cups of fish stock
one cup of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup of mushrooms
2 tablespoons of nam prik pao (chilis paste in oil)

Heat the sauce, add the stock and nam prik pao, and stir to combine, add
the shrimp and mushrooms, and cook until the shrimp are pink.

Taste and adjust the flavor by adding fish sauce (salt), sugar, and
possibly more nam prik pao.

You can of course ring the changes, using different main ingredients,
different chili pastes and so on, but these three dishes, with a bowl of
rice will feed a small group (4-6 people) with plenty of variety.
Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.