Thai curry (base)
9 dried red chillies, cut and soaked (red curry) or 27 green bird's eye chillies (green curry); 7 cloves garlic; 5 cloves shallot; 1 teaspoon peppercorns; 1 tablespoon chopped coriander roots; 5 tablespoons lemongrass, sliced; 7 slices galangal; 1 teaspoon kaffir lime rinds, chopped; 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

Pound or blend all ingredients (except the shrimp paste) until pasty. Add the shrimp paste. Pound until the paste becomes fine.

Thai curry (for addicts)
81 dried red chillies, cut and soaked (red curry) or 150 g green bird's eye chillies (green curry); 400 g garlic; 500 g shallot; 30 g peppercorns; chopped roots of 3 coriander bunches; 3-4 bundles lemongrass, sliced; 100 g galangal; chopped rinds of 2-3 kaffir limes; 1 tablespoon shrimp paste

Blend first! Otherwise, same process. Deep-freeze in 100 to 200 g portions.

Keang masmun chilli paste
Makes 1 cup
3 heads garlic; 2 shallots; one 1-inch chunk galangal or ginger; 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil; 6 stalks lemongrass, green parts and hard outer layers removed; 1 tablespoon coriander seeds; ½ teaspoon cumin seeds; ½ teaspoon caraway seeds; 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds; 6 whole cloves; ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; ½ teaspoon ground mace; 1 teaspoon sea salt; 10 to 12 sprigs fresh coriander with stems and roots, minced; 2 dried New Mexico (or California) chillies, softened in warm water, seeded, and minced; 15 dried chillies (de árbol or japonés), softened in warm water, half seeded, half not, and minced; minced zest of 1 kaffir lime or regular lime; 2 teaspoons fermented shrimp paste or 1 tablespoon red miso

Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Slice off the tops of the garlic and the shallots. Place the garlic, shallots, and galangal on a large piece of aluminium foil. Drizzle the oil over them and wrap in the foil. Wrap the lemongrass in another piece of aluminium foil. Put both pouches in the oven and bake the lemongrass for 20 minutes and the garlic, galangal, and shallots for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool completely.
Squeeze the cooked garlic from the cloves. Peel the galangal and mince. Squeeze the cooked shallots from the skin and mince. Set the garlic, galangal, and shallots aside in separate bowls. Mince the roasted lemongrass and. set aside.
Combine the cumin and caraway seeds in a 9-inch skillet and dry-roast over medium high heat, sliding the skillet back and forth to ensure even roasting, until the seeds exude a wonderful aroma, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate to cool, then repeat the process with the coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, and cloves. Grind in an electric spice or coffee grinder. Transfer to a bowl, add the nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace, and set aside.
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the sea salt and garlic into a paste. One at a time, add the coriander roots and stems, chillies, coriander seeds, ground spices, cardamom, cloves, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, and shallots in sequence, adding each new ingredient only after the previous one is pureed and incorporated into the paste. Add the fermented shrimp paste and mix and blend well. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Hot chilli oil
⅔ cup shockingly pungent dried red chili flakes; ⅓ cup Chinese fermented black beans (do not rinse them), coarsely chopped; 4 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled; 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger; 2 ½ cups corn or peanut oil; ⅓ cup Japanese sesame oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy, non-aluminium 2-litre saucepan. Rest a deep-fry thermometer on the rim of the pot. Over moderately low heat, bring the mixture to a bubbly 110 to 120°C, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 15 minutes, checking to ensure the temperature does not rise. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool or overnight.
Scrape the oil and solids into an impeccably clean glass or plastic container. Store at cool room temperature.

Nước chậm (Spicy fish sauce)
2 small garlic cloves, crushed; 1 small fresh red chile pepper, seeded and minced; 2 tablespoons sugar; 2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice; ¼ cup rice vinegar; ¼ cup nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce)

Combine the garlic, chile and sugar in a mortar. Pound with a pestle to a fine paste.
Add the lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce and ¼ cup of water. Stir to blend.
Alternatively, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process for 30 seconds, or until the sugar dissolves.
Note: If you wish to make additional sauce and have it handy, do as follows: Place the sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Add the lime juice and fish sauce. This sauce may be stored in a tightly closed bottle or jar and refrigerated for 2 or 3 months. Each time you need nước chậm, just crush some fresh chiles and garlic and add as much sauce as needed.
Yield: 1 cup

Variation: Some people like to garnish this sauce with shredded carrots and daikon (or white turnip). This can also serve as a quick substitute for pickled carrots when they are indicated in a recipe.
Nước chậm with shredded carrot and daikon
1 small carrot, shredded; 1 small daikon or turnip, peeled and shredded; 1 teaspoon sugar; 1 cup nước chậm

Toss the carrot and daikon shreds with the sugar in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Add the nước chậm to the softened vegetables and stir.
Yield: 1½ cups

Cooking Japanese rice
1 Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water changing the water several times until the water runs clear, then drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer and set aside for 1 hour.
2 Put the rice in a deep pan and add 15 per cent more cold water than rice (for 200 g / 7 oz / 1 cup rice you will need about 250 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup water). The water level should not be more than a third from the base of the pan.
3 Cover the pan, place over a high heat and bring to the boil; this may take 5 minutes. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 10-13 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.
4 Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, still covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Cook's tip: To cook genmai (brown rice), wash and drain the rice, then put 2 parts water to 1 part rice into a pan. Bring to the boil, cover, then simmer for 40 minutes.

Making sushi rice
Su-meshi (vinegared rice) is the base for all kinds of sushi and it is essential to correctly cook the rice. As a guide, to make hoso-maki (thin nori-rolled sushi), 350 g / 12 oz / 1¾ cups short grain rice should make six rolls (about 36 pieces), sufficient to serve four to six people.
1 Cook the rice following the method above. For extra flavour, add a 5 cm / 2 in square of konbu (dried kelp) to the pan of rice and water, removing before the water reaches boiling point.
2 In a measuring cup, mix 45 ml / 3 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar), 37.5 ml / 7½ tsp sugar and 10 ml / 2 tsp sea salt to the above amount of rice and stir well until dissolved.
3 Transfer the cooked rice to a wet wooden sushi tub or a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice. Using a wooden spatula, fold the vinegar mixture into the rice; do not stir. Leave to cool before using to make sushi.
Personal taste: Reduce sugar to 25 ml / 5 tsp.

Last update 2014-12-09