I don’t really like talking on the phone, unless it’s to my family or close friends. This is because I think I sound manly on the phone, or on a voice recorder, or video. I always sound like a teenage boy whose voice has just broken. It sounds like I’m putting myself down doesn’t it? Like I’m being overly harsh on my dulcet tones? I’m not.
Wanna know how I know this? Because my name is Jess….or Jessica if I’ve been naughty and my Dad is telling me off (I’m 22, nearly 23 and, yes this still happens!). But when I’m on the phone, people call me Jeff, I get faxes from people at work FAO Jeff, and this is after they’ve spoken to me on the phone!. But, more importantly, my Thai take-away is always ordered in the name of Jess, but handed over in the name of Geoff – sometimes they scribble out ‘Jeff’ and write the burlier sounding ‘Geoff’, as if the first spelling wasn’t quite manly enough for the voice they’ve heard. They write this regardless of the fact that I collect the order every time and they do this despite looking awkward when I give in my name and they hand me ‘Geoff’s’ bag.
This hasn’t put me off ordering Thai food though. I have a constant craving for it. I make it pretty often at home, but mostly when I can’t be bothered to cook it’s Thai food that calls to me, demanding my attention….the amazing balance of hot, salty, sweet and tangy? They crunch of fresh raw vegetables and the mellow, plain rice? If you can resist this –talk to me! Tell me your secret – how can I break this money-draining spell?
January is tough for everyone. The lack of sparkly lights, the lack of money, the lack of alcohol (if, like us, you are partaking in ‘Dry January’) and the lack of chocolate (if, unlike us, you have adhered to your resolutions……I haven’t and now my jeans don’t fit!). So we’re all agreed? January is rubbish!
Mine has been unbearable. My usual Thai restaurant is shut. FOR THE WHOLE OF JANUARY! So I tried to make myself feel better by eating other take-aways, you know trying to fill a void. Chinese, Pizza, Indian, all the sweets in the land. Nothing has cured my need, it has cured that terrible problem I had of fitting comfortably into my clothes though………..
Today, however, I have taken matters into my own hands. A visit to the local Asian supermarket, and 20 minutes in the kitchen and my need has now been met. A perfect meal of Red Thai Curry, rice and a spicy peanut salad. Now I can’t be sure any of this is truly authentic but it defiantly hit the spot. What’s more is that next Friday is 1st of Feb…. the re-opening of Chaba Chaba and the death of January! What more could I ask for?!
Enjoy your fake-away. This is about £20 cheaper than a take-away and only slightly more effort that choosing and then driving to pick it up.
Red Thai Curry
I made this with Red Curry Paste and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it…. Ok I do a little bit. But I read somewhere that in Thailand a lot of people don’t make their own pastes but use ready made as they are too busy. Sound familiar? If you use a really good paste and add a few bits of your own you really shouldn’t worry about it. It’s Friday night. Give yourself a break. I added coriander seeds and cumin seeds because my paste didn’t have them in, and I wanted that depth of flavour. Thai curries are quite liquidy so don’t be scared by this.
1tsp cumin seeds*
1tsp coriander seeds*
1tbsp flavourless oil – groundnut, rapeseed, sunflower, peanut (which isn’t flavourless but is nice)
2 Chicken breasts – sliced thin
2 tbsp red curry paste – I used 3tbsp but now my insides are permanently burnt – really it’s up to you, how much heat you think you can handle. Add 1tbsp if you’re not great with heat, 2tbsp if your up for a bit of spice and if your insane and don’t want to taste your food add 3tbsp
1 tin coconut milk – light if you like – but it will be slightly thinner
Handful of green beans – cut in half – optional (I just had them in the fridge)
1tbsp fish sauce
1tbsp palm sugar…..or brown sugar if you don’t have an Asian supermarket related addiction
Handful of chopped coriander – optional
Few slithers of finely chopped chilli – optional
- In a small pan, heat cumin seeds and coriander seeds and toast until you can smell the lovely aroma they give off, Once toasted, grind into a power. I cannot describe how good this smells.
- Heat oil in a large wok (or frying pan) and add the paste and chicken, cook for two to three minutes on a medium heat and add the ground spices.
- Add the coconut milk and green beans and lower the heat. Simmer until the chicken is cooked.
- Now this bit is up to your own individual taste. Add a tsp of fish sauce and a tsp of sugar, and a squeeze of lime – taste. Does the flavour make the whole of your mouth tingle? Good. Want it spicer? Add some chilli. Not sweet enough or too hot? Add a bit more sugar. Lacking in something? Add more fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Your curry will meet your own tastes, just keep tasting and adding. Remember though – you can always add more but you can take it out, so go cautiously.
- When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle over chilli slithers and coriander and serve with rice or rice noodles. Something that sucks up the flavour.
*Don’t have whole coriander and cumin? – use the ready ground stuff. Although grinding it yourself, you do get the fresh aroma.
Spicy Peanut Salad
The ginger adds a different type of heat than the chilli, it adds a warmth rather than a burn.
1 carrot – peeled and sliced into really fine matchsticks
1/2 red onion sliced finely
1 handful of beansprouts
3 radishes sliced finely
3 spring onions – sliced – I slice mine on an angle
½ finely sliced chilli
1 handful coriander – finely chopped
1 handful of peanuts, roughly crushed. You want some quite big bits still in there
1tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Squeeze of lime
Couple of drops toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds – toasted, if you can be bothered – optional
- Combine all the fresh veggies, chilli, coriander and peanuts in a bowl.
- In a screw-top jar, add the ingredients for the dressing, put the lid on and shake. You can also mix this in a glass or if you’re feeling more confident straight in the salad. But for ease do it in the jar, then you can control how much dressing you use.
- Combine the dressing and the salad. You want just enough dressing to coat the salad. Taste it, is it making you smile? Good. Me too! You may have some left over but it should keep in the fridge – you could mix it with some peanut butter and drizzle it over some cold noodles and veg later in the week.
- Add the sesame seeds if using. Serve a big handful on top of your curry!
Enjoy your fake-away. This is about £20 cheaper than a take-away and only slightly more effort that choosing and then driving to pick it up. I’m off to spend the rest of the night with Jack Reacher and a mountain of sweets. How are you spending your Friday night?