Prawn and Pak Choi Quick Coconut Curry

This one seems so luxurious, but is relatively easy, healthy and cheap to make. Before you roll your eyes, my tip is to check out the freezers in any of the Asian Supermarkets around town (Drury Street and Jervis are my favourites) where you’ll find bags of good quality shellfish that only cost a couple of euro. To be fair, it is cheaper to buy whole prawns and do the icky deshelling bit yourselves, but I understand that not everyone shares my idea of a fun evening, so feel free to buy pre-shelled prawns too. (so posh…)

Similarly, if you are making the trip to the Asian supermarket, pick up a huge bag of pak choi (a leafy green vegetable that tastes way way better than cabbage), and cheap tins of coconut milk. To be honest, you’d be mad to buy anything like soy sauce, rice, coconut milk or spice mixes anywhere else either – they really are much cheaper in the Asian supermarkets. For this, I use a red thai curry paste (often the Blue Dragon brand, or Pataks), so shop around and see which one you like – check the ingredient list and make sure the paste is made of pretty much real ingredients, and not chock-full of salt.

Just a note – if you are making this for a couple of days, make up the batch of sauce, but only add the amount of prawns and pak choi you are going to eat. You’ll see from the recipe that they only take minutes to cook, so add them fresh when you heat up the leftover sauce, as it is much nicer, and avoids scary reheating/bacteria issues.

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Ingredients

5-6 raw, shelled prawns per person.

A couple of handfuls of pak choi.

1 small tin of coconut milk.

300ml water/chicken stock.

3 tbsp red thai curry paste.

2 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 small onion/shallot, finely diced.

1 small red chilli, chopped.

Large handful of coriander, chopped.

1 tsp soy sauce.

Squeeze of lime.

1. Add a small amount of oil to a pan, and gently fry the onions and garlic. Do this on a low heat – you want them to soften, but not to crisp up. Add the chopped chilli, omitting the seeds if you don’t want too much heat. If ever you burn the garlic, toss it and start again – honestly, the taste of burnt garlic will permeate the entirety of your dish, and according to the Italians, is extremely bad for your digestive system.Just saying.

2. When the onions have softened, add the spice paste and cook for a few minutes. Again, take care not to have the heat too high, as you will burn the spices. However, in general, cooking out the spice paste is one of the key tips in making a nice curry – it really changes and mellows the flavour, allowing all the spices to release their natural oils. If you are worried about burning things, I was told to keep a glass of water handy, and throw some on the pan if it gets too hot.

3. Add the coconut milk, and as much water/stock as you like (300ml is a very rough guide). Some people prefer a more brothy-type curry, some a creamier consistency, so it is up to you. Add the soy sauce and the squeeze of lime, and taste – if you think it needs more of something, chuck it in.

4. Pop in the raw prawns, and cook for about 3 minutes. They will change from a grey colour to a bright pink, and firm up. Toss in the pak choi, and stir for one last minute until just wilted. Stir in the chopped coriander, and finish with a final squirt of lime.

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