Finally got the knack of doing my own Thai curry. I bought a bunch of coriander and cumin seeds from the Bangladeshis at the Esquiline market the other day, and have been putting them in nearly everything but my tea.
In a dry fry pan, toast a handful each of coriander and cumin and sesame seeds, until the sesame seeds start to turn golden and the coriander starts to pop and crackle. Set them aside in a dish to cool then store them in an airtight container.
half an onion, chopped
two minced cloves garlic
slice some mushrooms
slice into thin spears some Romanesco Broccoli
slice some carrots into thin ovals
a large fresh plum, sliced thin
knuckle of fresh ginger, grated
(other nice things are yellow and red sweet peppers, Thai aubergines, Japanese sweet potatoes, parsnips, lotus root, or really any fairly hard sweet vegetable. All orange veg is good.)
Cut up one full breast of chicken (this recipe would also be good with gamberoni or other seafood if you're not into meat)
2 tbsp olive oil
250 ml coconut milk
teaspoon Thai green curry paste (watch out, hot! omit if you're not into spicy stuff)
1-2 tbsp Thai anchovy sauce (the Romans called it liquamen and put it in everything so this is not just a Thai recipe, but could easily be a Roman one)
a blob of tomato paste
a squeeze or two of ketchup
Saute in the olive oil the chicken and all the veg and fruit in a large skillet, until the chicken is cooked and the veg starts to soften. Meanwhile grind up in a mortar and pestle a couple of generous handfuls of the coriander/cumin/sesame seeds.
Once the meat and veg has cooked a bit, throw in the ground spices and toss so it' evenly coated. Allow a few more minutes on the heat.
Once it's becoming fragrant, dump in your coconut milk and reduce the heat to very low. Season with the liquamen, tomato paste, ketchup, curry paste, stirring gently. Once you've got it tasting the way you like it (all amounts above are approximate), stick the lid on, turn the heat down as low as you can, and go away and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes.
Eat with rice, or just by itself if you're paleo.
The secret to making Thai food taste that heavenly way that Thai food does, is the fish sauce. I was skeptical about this until I started trying to recreate Thai curry at home, but no matter what I did, it never did come out the way it was in restaurants. I did the curry paste, the coconut milk, the spices, everything, but it just lacked that special something.
Turns out it was fermented anchovies.
And that, as Robert Frost said, has made all the difference.