I can't believe I've managed to arrive at this late stage of life without ever having tried to cook Thai food. I guess I just assumed that there were plenty of Thai restaurants and if I wanted the real thing, I'd just go to the source. Even up here there are two Thai restaurants in town, but the trouble is they're devilishly expensive, and we never go out much, certainly not to eat in restaurants.
But last week I was in the Library bus taking back a pile of books and found myself browsing books entirely by their covers (I'd forgotten my glasses). I was stopped by a lavishly photographed book on Thai cooking and when I got it home I found myself reading it from cover to cover. The author has very kindly not only included every single fave Thai dish, but has written a potted philosophical treatise on how the food is prepared, how the combinations of the five flavours - sweet, sour, bitter, salty and hot - are blended and balanced, and how to make the various curry pastes which, to my delight, are made from the stuff growing in my garden.
I managed a damn fine chicken and coconut milk soup last night, a pretty delicious stir fried seafood and vegies for lunch today - by the time I have to return the book I should have it pretty much down. In the mean time, I'll be recording them here for future reference.
It means I have a whole new garden to plant - a kaffir lime tree, ginger, spring onions, chinese spring flowering chives, red and green chillies, coriander and thai eggplants. I've even got a tamarind tree! I'll need to take a trip to the coast to lay in supplies of Dried black fungus, dried shrimp and black bean sauce, and sow heaps more asian greens. It is the most beautiful fragrant cuisine - I think I'm hooked.
This evening we're having hot and sour soup with seafood:
A couple of handsfull of mixed seafood
900 ml of seafood stock
3 lemongrass stalks
5 coriander roots
2 tbsp fish sauce
125g of straw or mixed mushrooms
1 onion quartered
4-5 small red or green chillies lightly crushed
12 cherry tomatoes
5 kaffir lime leaves, torn
3 tablesp lime juice
Put stock, lemon grass, coriander, and fish sauce into a pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, add seafood and cook for two minutes.
Quarter any large mushrooms and add with chillis, onion, tomatoes, lime leaves and juice and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Turn into a serving bowl and garnins with sliced kaffir leaves.