Back when we were in living in Tarleton Gardens, your father and I had a brief flirtation with Ian Marber’s Food Doctor Diet. Like all ‘diets’ the restrictions proved unsustainable in the long term, but one of Marber’s recipes took root. This green Thai curry, originally a recipe for monkfish, is a vehicle for all sorts of alternative proteins: I make it most often with prawns but have also done it with chicken and tofu. For the cucumber-averse (Zita), pak choi can be used instead. It is very quick and simple, taking less time to pull together than it does to cook the accompanying rice. The other obligatory accompaniment – grated carrot salad – is also straightforward to rustle up (recipe included).
500g raw peeled jumbo king prawns (defrosted if frozen)
2 tbsp sunflower, groundnut or coconut oil
2 kaffir lime leaves, or 3 fat strips lime zest
1 stick lemon grass, cut into 3 chunks and bashed
3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 tin coconut milk
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
½ large cucumber or 1 head pak choi
Handful of roughly torn basil (Thai or regular)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, then add the lime leaves or zest and the lemon grass. Fry briefly, add the green curry paste and cook for a minute. Now add your prawns and stir-fry until they turn pink: this will take just a couple of minutes. If you’re using chicken strips, allow a bit longer to make sure the meat is cooked through. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a simmer and let it bubble for 5 more minutes. To prepare your cucumber, peel a few strips off (leaving some dark green stripes), halve it, scrape out the seeds and cut into 3cm batons. If you’re having pak choi instead, cut the firm white part into chunks, shred the dark green leaves and keep separately.
Add the fish sauce and cucumber or white pak choi to the curry mix and simmer for another couple of minutes. Finally, stir in the basil (and pak choi leaves). Remove the lemon grass and lime leaves before serving with rice, carrot salad and a squeeze of lime.
4 large carrots
1 tbsp sunflower, groundnut or coconut oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
2 tbsp lime juice
Peel and coarsely grate the carrots and place in a serving bowl. Heat the oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Stir it all into the carrots with the lime juice.