Sunday, 3 October 2010

South East Asian Delights

Cambodian Aubergine Curry and Stir Fried Spinach with Nuoc Cham
After last week's Fish Amok success we still had some Kroeung left so it was back to the recipe book for more inspiration. Also, since discovering the price of Aubergines in Lidl, we always seem to have at least one in, so it was with little surprise that the recipe for Cambodian Aubergine Curry leapt off the page.
As with a lot of these recipes the ingredient list was quite substantial, and some items require a flick to the glossary, or to the ingredients or condiments section to see what exactly it is.
We did have most ingredients in for the Aubergine curry, but did have to make a few adjustments (Morrisons doesn't sell Shrimp Paste, and haven't ventured into China town yet to investigate these type of crazy ingredients, and Cambodian Fish Sauce? Sorry, Thai will have to do).
We served it with a side of stir fried spinach with Nuoc Cham, again adapted slightly, as this was normal British spinach and not oriental Water Spinach, and also by accident, the proportions got slightly out.

Ingredients: (Aubergine Curry)

2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small shallots, sliced
1 dried chilli
1 1/2 tbsp Kroeung
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp mollases
300ml coconut milk
175 ml chicken stock
1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
3 kaffir lime leaves
fresh basil

First of all, fry the garlic, shallots and whole chilli until things start to colour. Then add the Kroeung, fish sauce and mollases and stir fry until they start to colour.

Then stir in the coconut milk, stock and lime leaves.

Next add the aubergines and stir through.
partially cover the pan and simmer for 25-30 mins until the aubergines have cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Ingredients: (Spinach)

Groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green Thai chillis
500g spinach
3 tbsp Nuoc Cham - 4 garlic cloves, 2 Thai chillis, 1 tbsp sugar, juice of 1 lime, 4tbsp fish sauce
Salt and pepper

The spinach was more complicated, since we had to make the Nuoc Cham from scratch. This involved pounding the garlic, chillis and sugar with a pestle and mortar, then adding the lime juice and the fish sauce (which in the book is called Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese) - to confuse matters (not to be confused with Tuk Trey which is Cambodian.) Confused?)

The garlic and chillis were then fried in a wok with the groundnut oil for about 1 minute, then the spinach was added. As it wilts, the Nuoc Cham is added. All of this went in. The measurements for the Nuoc Cham make more than is needed for the spinach stir fry, but hey ho, it didn't offend and meant there was a bit of liquid left over.

The Cambodian curry was lovely. The flavours of the Kroeung coming through, and not overpowering the aubergine. We'd used light coconut milk, but this didn't have an effect on the creaminess of the dish at all.

The spinach (Vietnamese) was lovely and refreshing with the lime juice of the Nuoc Cham coming through, also with a satisfying kick from those chillis. We do like spicy food, but perhaps these two were not best matched. The heat of the chillis in the spinach seemed to overpower the delicate flavours and fragrances of the curry. We will do both of these again, and again. But probably not together.

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