Thai Green Curry Paste & Public Humiliation

I’ve just spent a couple of days in Edinburgh with my sister. The purpose of my visit was to select my bridesmaid dress for her upcoming wedding and, to be honest, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to. I had been told in advance that we would have to go to the designated wedding dress shop, stand in an ornate, soft-focus fitting room while a gang of wedding-obsessed shop assistants squeezed me into a parade of ill-fitting taffeta outfits for my family’s amusement. The reality was as bad as it sounds but, after 2 hours of having women poke bits of my flesh into dresses that were 4 sizes too small, we actually got a lovely dress.

It made me think that I seem to have a lot of public dress-fitting humiliations – perhaps the most memorable being in a marketplace in Bangkok. My friend Karen & I were on holiday and wanted to get some dresses made for us, Karen’s parents lived in Bangkok and told us about a great dressmaker in a central Bangkok market. We set out with our hastily sketched dress designs and plunged into exactly what I’d always imagined a Thai market would be – a bustling, humid, carnival of noise, livestock and confusion. We eventually found our way to the dressmaker’s market stall where she asked us to hop onto a box to be measured. It is perhaps worth mentioning at this stage that I am not, as the ridiculous Sophie Dahl puts it, “a little slip shadow of a creature” – I’ve always been a bit on the chunky side. So, when the diminutive Thai dressmaker pulls out her tape measure and begins her work she is surprised by what she finds. In fact upon measuring my boobs, she laughs her tiny little head off! And not wanting her colleagues to miss out on the amusement, she invites nearby stallholders to come and look at the tape measure and share in my hilarious proportions. Lovely…

My therapist says I’m making good progress, all things considered.

So anyway, this all ties up in a food-related way as, while I was at my sister’s house last week, I made her a Thai Green Curry paste to stick in her freezer. She had a cupboard full of Thai ingredients sourced from a nearby asian supermarket and needed some ideas for what to do with them. So, Katie, to enable you to make green curry paste whenever you fancy, the recipe is below.

Thai Green Curry Paste: 

  • Big knob of ginger (or galangal if you can get hold of it) 
  • Couple of cloves of garlic
  • Couple of shallots 
  • Zest & juice of 2 limes plus more to taste 
  • Couple of stalks of lemongrass 
  • Couple of green chillies (My sister gets something she calls Chilli Cheeks – some sort of affliction rendering her unable to eat very spicy food because it makes her cheeks hurt [no, I’ve never heard of this before either…] – I’d recommend trying the chillis first to see how hot they are before adding to the paste) 
  • Big bunch of coriander (stalks and all) 
  • Teaspoon of sugar (palm sugar is authentic but any soft brown sugar will do) 
  • A few glugs of fish sauce 
  • A tablespoon or two of vegetable oil 

 Throw everything into a blender and whizz together. Taste and add more lime/fish sauce/sugar as you like. When you want to use the paste, just fry it off in a frying pan for a couple of minutes until the smell fills the room and then add coconut milk & reduce a little. Add prawns at the last minute and cook for a minute or two until they turn pink. This paste would also be good brushed onto chicken thighs or salmon fillets before grilling/barbecuing/roasting. A spoonful or two would make the base to a nice broth-y soup. Or you could fry the paste for a minute or two and then stir through some noodles & top with stir fried veg & crushed peanuts.  

(Incidentally the picture above is actually from the fateful Thailand holiday).

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