We're on count down now until we're off on a family holiday to Phuket, Thailand for a week. On an excitement scale of 0 - 10, I'm about a 15 and as it gets closer, there's only one direction it can go ... up, up, up.
It isn't our first trip to this beautiful island - we've been twice before - but we all loved it so much that returning again is definitely a pleasure. Previously we have stayed at Indigo Pearl (recently rebranded as The Slate) - an independent hotel that was badly damaged by the 2004 tsunami and then lovingly rebuilt under the watchful eye of a talented Australian architect. It was built on the site of an old tin mine and uses this theme as the inspiration for the design and decor. A themed hotel could be naff, but it works - even down to the cutlery.
When day to day home life is too frantic, too stressful, too annoying ... when we're feeling hacked off and a bit grumpy, Indigo Pearl is where we all wish we could escape to. We all have our favourite bits ... I love their iced coffee - tall glass, decaf, ice cubes (NOT crushed), a dash of milk, sugar syrup on the side. I'll admit that I'm high maintenance about my coffee! Joe and Finn like the buffet breakfasts where there is a large lady who makes small omelettes, and a small lady who makes large ones ... cute. Hella likes the blue ice cream - that has to be Smurf flavoured doesn't it?
We all like the rainstorms as long as they are shortish and warmish and of course, we love the beautiful, gentle Thai people.
We're trying a different hotel this time - controversial - but I feel sure that it will be just as lovely. And in preparation for the onslaught of the fresh, zingy, buzzing flavours that constitute Thai cooking, I have made one of my favourite dishes this week - Thai Green Chicken Curry.
There was a time not so very long ago when every menu, everywhere featured this dish. It became as ubiquitous as spag bol and fish & chips, and yet how often was it any good? Rarely. And how often was it gorgeous? Virtually never.
For me, the problem lies in the fact that a jar of ready-made curry paste is SO easy to get hold of and the thought of making your own paste feels as far from 'gorgeous food - no fuss' as it's possible to be.
But here's the thing ... it definitely is a lot easier to swing by the supermarket for a jar of Thai Green Curry Paste, but you need to trust me on this one - it WILL be less fuss, but it will also NOT be gorgeous. Nice, maybe - gorgeous ... no.
So how do I make creating the paste from scratch feel like less of a drama?
I make the paste on one day (20 minutes tops) and then pop it in the fridge to use the next day - or even the next week. That way I can feel like I'm not spending ages slaving over the dish and I end up with the pleasure but without the resentment.
What equipment do you need to make Thai green curry paste from scratch?
There's no denying it - you will need a food processor to make the paste. Nothing fancy, but without it, you will need to be as patient and as dextrous with a knife as ... well, a very patient and dextrous thing. There's nothing tricky about the method - just wack it all in and press go. And just wait for the smell - oh, the smell - the effort is worth it for the fragrance alone.
When you have your paste, spoon it into a jar; screw on the lid to trap the magical aroma and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to create.
The recipe I use is based on a Nigel Slater dish (I seem to be on a roll with his creations just now) and it has a fresh fragrance and a depth of flavour that is unbeatable.
What are my tips for this delicious Thai Green Chicken Curry?
- This is a dish that I always double up on as it freezes like a dream and is perfect to have stashed away as a takeaway alternative.
- It's a popular family favourite and seems to be the only dish, the promise of which, will sometimes get Finn to rush a tiny bit to get changed after swim training. Oh, the power of a tasty meal ...
- It's also a really popular dinner party meal and is perfect to transport when you've been asked to bring the main course.
- Try not to overcook the chicken or it will go dry and rubbery (always want to say 'wubbery' there) and don't be tempted to miss out on the green peppercorns, even if you are unfamiliar with them - they do add a certain something. Apart from that just do it. Sizzle it, stir it, smell it and love it.
- I sometimes make this dish with a rotisserie chicken - it works well and is also ideal for leftover turkey at Christmas.
- I always serve with rice and pita bread - there's nothing quite like a Thai Green Chicken Curry sandwich.
- Leftovers are sensational and are the hands-down most popular filling for a food flask.
And now I really ought to start thinking about packing for our trip. Only 2 more sleeps to go ...Print