I’m not really known for my cooking. As in, I’ve spent most of my adult life as a ‘won’t cook’ as opposed to a ‘can’t cook’. I’m a firm believer that if you can read, you can cook – you don’t need much more than that to bang out a perfectly edible meal. We’re not born with an innate ability to produce stunning dishes from our kitchen; I’m guessing it’s practise, but what do I know? When I can be arsed to cook, I tend to bung a load of stuff together and watch with either horror or satisfaction when it all doesn’t work or it all comes together.
I’ve been getting back into it this year. And I’m enjoying the cathartic side of chopping, stirring and feeding. I’m also finally starting to use the freezer properly. It’s no longer just an expensive to run transition stage between my fridge and the bin. But then, I don’t think I’m the only one to fill their freezer because of this thought: “Uggh, the meat and fish in the fridge are about to go out of date but I can’t face throwing it all away, let’s put it all in the freezer to defrost and eat another day but I know I’m never actually going to get around to doing”.
I’ve revisited a recipe that I used to use many years ago when the children were younger and I’d forgotten how easy it was. I thought I’d share. It’s not exact science (which is probably why I like it so much!). It’s also really really versatile. To keep it simple to read, I’ll just write the recipe here and then add notes at the bottom for exactly why it’s so versatile.
This feeds 5 of us with spare.
2 large shallots or 1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic
1 Blue Dragon Thai Red Curry paste
1 teaspoon palm sugar
A splash of soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 or 2 cans coconut milk (you can get lower fat version)
vegetables chopped up into pieces that usually take about 8 minutes to cook (I use anything/everything I haven’t got around to using in the week… green beans, an aubergine that’s a bit squidgy, broccoli, red peppers…)
3 or 4 salmon fillets
200 ml of basmati rice
How to cook:
Fry the onions on a low/medium heat until they’re soft but not brown. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two. Turn the heat up a bit, then add the paste, giving it a good stir around – I like chasing it around the bottom of the pan as it melts. Add the palm sugar, then the fish sauce and soy sauce. Give it a good stir, then add the coconut milk followed by the veggies – if there are so many vegetables that over half of them aren’t under the milk, add another can of milk. Bring the pot up to the boil.
Put the Basmati rice onto a medium/hot heat*.
Cover the curry, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (just check the vegetables to see if they’re cooking nicely).
When they’re nearly cooked, line the salmon fillets, skin side up in the pan and push them into the sauce so that they’re covered. Cook for about 5 minutes. I usually peel the skin off whilst they’re floating on the top of the milk (fussy like that). Peek at the inside of one of the fillets to check the salmon is cooked through.
Then serve it up with the rice.
*Basmati rice is really really easy to do. Grab a measuring jug and fill it with the rice to 200 ml. Packets say to rinse it at this point – I never do! Pop the rice into a small saucepan then measure out 400ml of water and pop that in the saucepan. Don’t do anything else to it until you think all of the water is gone, then give it a stir to check. When the water has gone, the rice should be cooked.
So…. versatility tips.
You can swap out the salmon for diced chicken (1-2 inch squares) – just pop them in so that they’re covered by the coconut milk and cook for about 15 minutes. Take one one of the bigger cubes out and cut inside to check it’s white.
Salmon fillets only take an hour or so to defrost, so if you remember to take them out at breakfast, you can cook for lunch at the weekend. (Obviously same goes if you take them out at lunchtime…. you can have for supper).
You don’t need the fish sauce, palm sugar or soy sauce. But as they all keep for ages, nice to have in the cupboard.
You don’t even need the salmon – which I think would make this a fully vegan option (if you leave out the fish sauce too). It also makes it a very cheap option – teach your kids for future meals they have to pay for ;).
You can add some lime juice; it’s really nice and weirdly makes it more summery.
You can use any red curry paste. I don’t have shares in blue dragon, but the little handy pots are about 80p and can be kept in the cupboard. It’s also not a ‘catch at the back of the throat’ curry paste. So younger teens can eat this curry without having to run to the fridge for a glass of milk.
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