See what I did there another terrible pun. But I remember the village fetes when I was growing up and there was always a coconut shy. You aimed a small hard wooden ball to knock down coconuts and win a prize. The only other time I encountered coconut in my childhood was the giant box of Bassett’s Liquorish Allsorts at Christmas. I ate far too many and was violently ill. It then took years to be able to stomach anything coconut flavoured. Thankfully I now like coconut in curries, desserts and love coconut sorbet. So I am not really happy to bring you this very tasty recipe for Thai Coconut Fish Soup. I still think desiccated coconut is made from Satan’s hoof clippings.
I love the contrasts and combinations in Thai cooking, salt, sweet, heat and sour. Recipes such as Thai style crab cakes and Seafood Tom Yam. Most of the aromatic ingredients are now available in a good supermarket or specialist Asian shop. You can use creamed coconut or coconut milk in the recipe and any seafood you really fancy. I have used monkfish but you can use any firm white fish. You can add prawns, squid, and mussels if you wish. This soup honours the spirit of Thai cooking rather than being wholly authentic so uses key Thai ingredients. There are chillies, galangal, coriander, and garlic flavouring the coconut base.
Thai-style Seafood Soup is a tasty favourite, poached monkfish and prawns, simmered in the spicy coconut broth flavoured with classic Thai ingredients. The kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass and crispy deep-fried shallots are all available in good Asian retailers or markets.
Thai green curry is an extremely popular recipe from the central region of Thailand. It is made using a paste of fresh green chillies, Thai basil, and galangal so be prepared it packs quite a punch. This is a real favourite in many of the restaurants and pubs I have cooked in and really easy so I thought it would be a great recipe for National Curry Week. The dish is normally made with white fish or chicken and traditional vegetables such as bamboo shoots or baby Thai eggplant. The sweet coconut milk balances the heat of the chillies in the Thai green curry paste.
Thai Green Chicken Curry
You can buy perfectly good prepared Thai green curry paste but I think homemade has the edge. Making the dish with homemade Thai green curry paste results in a fresher flavour and a brighter coloured sauce. For my recipe for Thai green curry paste follow this link. Even making the paste this dish is ideal for a quick evening supper and can be on the table in thirty minutes. I use Thai fish sauce to season the dish if you like your curries really hot you can add an extra small finely-sliced green chilli.
This dish is ideal for a quick evening supper and can be on the table in thirty minutes.
I like spicy food, not hair-raising hot curries and the like, but I enjoy a nice kick and I love the layers of different flavours you can build. One of my favourite chilli-based dishes is Tom yam, a hot and sour Thai soup flavoured with fragrant spices and aromatics; a good chicken stock flavoured with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal, which is now popular around the world. It is usually made with pork or shrimp, tomatoes, onion, maybe mushrooms, fish sauce, lime juice and coriander and may have Thai chilli jam or nam phrik phao added at the finish, which gives the soup a bright orange colour and a bigger chilli kick.
The base of a good Tom yam is a paste called Nam prik pao made from roasted garlic, chillies, shallots and as with many Thai bases dried shrimp. A commercially made paste is available and perfectly acceptable but I think for the most vibrant authentic taste it is best made fresh ingredients. There are a number of varieties of Tom yam the most popular of which are;-
Tom yam nam sai –a clear Tom yam soup
Tom yam kathi – a coconut milk based Tom yam
Tom yam kung – Tom yam with prawns
Tom yam kai– Chicken Tom yam
Tom yam kha mu – A slow cooked version made with pork leg
Tom yam po taek – Mixed seafood Tom yam
Seafood Tom yum
Seafood Tom yam
Seafood Tom yam, as you may have already guessed, is my particular favourite, poached fish, plump mussels and fresh prawns, simmered in the spicy broth is a really warming crowd pleaser. You can use any firm fish and experiment with adding squid and other seafood.
For Soup Base
1 litre quality Chicken stock
4 Lemongrass stalks, bruised and cut into large pieces
Heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas mark 5. Place the shallots, galangal, garlic and chillies on a tray and drizzle with the oil, place in the oven and roast for forty-five minutes until soft and caramelised. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and place in a food processor. Blitz to form a paste. Place the paste and the remaining ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool and strain.
300 ml Soup base
100 gr Cod or Monkfish ( boned, skinned and cut into chunks )
Heat the soup base up to a gentle simmer and add the fish, prawns and mushrooms. Cook for two minutes and add the mussels and the tomatoes. Cook for four more minutes then remove the soup from the heat, the mussels should be open and the prawns poached. Add the lime juice, spring onions and fresh coriander and check if any more ( seasoning ) fish sauce is required. Ladle into a bowl and serve.
What to Drink? Spicy Tom yam soup is a great match for the classic nutty toasted flavours of traditional Brown Ale and if you want to try a wine pair the slightly sweet, acidic tropical fruit flavours of an off-dry Reisling are a perfect foil for the chilli and spices.