Once I have a new cookbook, it doesn't take me long to get out my pad of post it note tags and mark recipes that I want to make. Christmas this year was particularly good for me cookbook-wise with my sister giving me Nigella Express, Deceptively Delicious, Pork & Sons and The Borough Market book. Nigella Express is of course the one that I am most likely to cook out of, the others providing fabulous recipes and gastronomic porn.
I was given a fabulous set of gourmet curry pastes from a friend last Christmas by Serious Salsa and I was eager to use them. They are a vast improvement on other pastes that I have used and lovely and fiery with a complex blend of flavours.
Christmas also gave us a huge tray of lovely mangoes from my sister in law and her husband. My husband can usually polish off a tray quickly but with all of the good food around, eating them has been a little slower. I secured a mango for this recipe from his prodigious and well guarded stockpile and the lovely woman behind the fish counter gave me three times the amount of prawns for the price of one so it felt like the stars and planets and culinary cosmos were aligned to make this curry. You believe in karma, fate or whatever you will, I subscribe to Culinary Cosmos.
Red Prawn and Mango Curry
This is one of the easiest suppers to make, but somehow, however much I know this, it always surprises me. Not in the cooking, so much as in the eating: I can't believe, each time anew, how deep and textured and full-throttle, in a sweet, comforting way, this tastes, when all I've done is a bit of shopping and some light stirring.
Obviously it helps if you can use some of the convenience stuff I list below: The ready peeled, cubed squash and sweet potato, and the mango I get at the supermarket make this a breeze. But if you can't find them, no matter: add a few drained canned chickpeas and perhaps, for a sour edge, some pineapple that's been in its own juice, no syrup. Add if you're not familiar with wok oil, see recipe below. As for the coconut milk, I often use the whole can rather than the mere half below; it really depends on whether I feel like eating out of a deep bowl, soupily, or a shallow one. To go with it, I suggest either plain rice or some wide rice noodles cooked according to the packet directions (all of about 2 minutes) and tossed in some toasted chopped unsalted peanuts.
If you have some fresh prawns, so much the better, but I stipulate frozen ones below since I regularly keep them in the freezer for an evening when you feel like eating gorgeously with very little forethought.
Red Prawn and Mango Curry
1 x 15ml tbsp wok oil* recipe below
1 x spring onion, finely sliced
1 1/2 x 15ml tbsp red Thai curry paste (or according to taste)
1/2 x 400ml can of coconut milk to give 200ml (I used a whole tin of coconut cream for a really indulgently good restaurant standard curry)
250ml chicken stock (made from concentrate)
2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1 x 350g packet butternut squash and sweet potato cubes (I used Jap pumpkin cubes)
200g packet frozen king prawns (mine weren't frozen so I butterflied them which is how I prefer them as it makes them look fatter and juicier)
1 teaspoon lime juice (I used a big squeeze from 1/3 of a lime)
150g mango cubes, diced
3-4 x 15ml tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Step 1 - Heat the wok oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and fry the sliced spring onion for a minute, then add the curry paste.
Step 2 - Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil.
3 . Tip in the butternut squash and sweet potato cubes and simmer, partially covered for about 15 minutes or until tender.
Step 4 - Drain the prawns under running water to remove excess ice and tumble them into the pan. Let the sauce come back to the boil. When it does, add the lime juice and diced mango and cook for another minute or so until the prawns are cooked through.
Step 5 - Sprinkle with the chopped coriander as you serve over plain rice or wide rice noodles, or even both.
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are and whether you're expecting to eat anything else at supper
Don't use olive oil but 450ml sunflower or other vegetable oil, plus 50ml toasted sesame oil, 4 sliced cloves of garlic, a 6cm piece of ginger sliced and strain after 48 hours of steeping.
Recipe by Nigella Lawson from Nigella Express