As befits a Monday night supper in dreary January, this dish is simple and comforting, and can be made from things you are likely to have in your store-cupboard. You don't even have to make it with fish and/or seafood: it works well with chicken, or you could even do a veggie version by adding things like baby corn, sliced red peppers, mushrooms etc. I nearly always have a tin of coconut milk and a tub of red Thai curry paste stashed away, and there's a good chance some salmon will be lurking in the freezer somewhere. Butternut squash - a rather suggestive-looking beast (!) - is a regular resident in my veg drawer, and a sprinkling of fresh coriander quickly turns this dish into something more classy. Serve with Thai jasmine rice for an authentic twist; Basmati is perfectly good too.
I looked again at the ingredients on Nigella's website, and realised that my version last night was very simplified, even though I had palm sugar and lemon grass to hand. Kaffir lime leaves (the freeze-dried ones are pretty good) add a nice citrussy zing, but lime zest works just as well. You can buy tubs of ready-made Thai curry paste in the supermarket: yellow or red works best for this, but go easy as some can be very fiery. Start with a small amount and adjust to your taste. Make this curry in advance and leave it to stand, giving the flavours a chance to deepen. Or knock it off in 20 mins if you're hungry/in a hurry! The recipe looks more complicated than it is: once you've made it a couple of times, you won't need to follow the text!
- 400ml tin coconut milk
- 1-2 tablespoons yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
- 350ml fish stock (I use boiling water and a slug of Benedicta Touch of Taste Concentrated Fish Bouillon; cubes would do)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or caster sugar
- 3 lemongrass stalks, each cut into three and bruised with the flat of a knife
- 3 lime leaves, de-stalked and cut into strips
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1kg pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled and cut into large-bite-sized chunks
- 500g salmon fillet, preferably organic, skinned and cut into large, bite-sized chunks
- 500g peeled raw prawns
- Pak choi or any other green vegetables of your choice
- Juice of 1/2-1 lime, to taste
- Coriander, to serve
- Skim the thick creamy top off the tin of coconut milk and put it, over medium heat, into a large saucepan or casserole with the curry paste. Let it sizzle and, using a fork, whisk or wooden spoon, beat milk and paste together until combined.
- Still beating gently, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, lime leaves and turmeric. Bring to a boil and then add the pumpkin. Cook on a fast simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes, although different sorts of pumpkins can vary enormously in the time they take to cook; some squash take as little as 5 minutes.
- You can cook the curry up till this part in advance, maybe leaving the pumpkin with a tiny bit of bite to it (it will soften and cook as the pan cools). Either way, when you're about 5 minutes away from wanting to eat, get ready to cook the seafood.
- So, to the robustly simmering pan, add the salmon and prawns (if you're using the prawns from frozen they'll need to go in before the salmon). When the salmon and prawns have cooked through, which shouldn't take more than 3-4 minutes, stir in any green veg you're using - sliced, chopped or shredded as suits - and tamp down with a wooden spoon.
- When the pak choi's wilted, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and taste and add the juice of the remaining half if you feel it needs it. Take the pan off the heat or decant the curry into a large bowl, and sprinkle over the coriander; the point is that the coriander goes in just before serving.
- Serve with more chopped coriander for people to add to their own bowls as they eat, and some plain Thai or basmati rice.