For all the complex plating styles, techniques and geometric designs that are so popular in youtube “food presentation” videos (which I am certainly not above), there is something to be said for the beauty inherently found in a bowl of stuff. Thai food is a moderately recent discovery of mine, and I am consistently bowled over by the depth of flavour inherent in these dishes. For all the beauty and ingredients involved here, it was surprisingly easy. I also adore the variety of textures involved – particularly those thin, stringy vermicelli noodles that just seem to go on forever. It’s worth noting that I didn’t grow up with Thai food, nor do I claim to be an expert on it or traditional methods involved, however I found this thoroughly fulfilling and achieveable.
I cooked this with chicken thighs for additional flavour, but excluding them wouldn’t leave you missing out with all of the other goodies in here, and without the chicken thighs it becomes a vegan dish. The key here is balance – the sweet richness of coconut milk, sourness of the lime, saltiness of the peanuts and beautifully fresh spice of the Thai red curry paste. Those of you with an astute eye for herbs may notice that I’ve opted to go for parsley on top – this is, of course, because I am one of the unfortunate few who simply cannot stand coriander. You can, of course, opt for the more traditional choice.
Ingredients – Roughly 4 portions
- 2-3 Boneless chicken thighs (optional)
- 1 Onion
- 1 Carrot
- 4-5 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 1 Can coconut milk
- Fish sauce
- A few Tablespoons unsalted peanut butter
- A few handfuls of roasted peanuts
- A few cloves garlic
- 2 limes
- A few nest of vermicelli noodles
- Crunchy stir fry vegetables (chopped) – mangetout, baby corn, spring onion, tenderstem broccoli, red chilli etc.
- 200ml vegetable stock
- Chopped parsley/coriander
- A few glugs oil
- If using the chicken, start by slicing into small chunks. Heat a little oil in a deep saucepan and fry at a medium-high heat to seal and begin browning. If not, simply skip this step.
- Dice the onion and slice the carrot, then add to oiled pan with a sprinkling of salt to stop it browning too much. Cook on a medium heat until softened somewhat but keep moving to avoid it browning.
- Add the garlic and stir for a minute or so before adding the curry paste and fish sauce. Cook for another minute, then pour in the coconut milk and vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Stir through the peanut butter and taste – by all means add a little more if you want the richness.
- Add the stir fry vegetables (reserve a bit of spring onion and chilli) and cook for minute before adding the vermicelli noodles. Stir through and continue to simmer until the noodles are softened. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning – it may need a bit more salt or lime juice. If it’s too thick, add a little water. If too thin, make a slurry of 3 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp water. Stir through the soup 1 tsp at a time, keeping an eye on the thickness. It should be fairly thin, but the final texture is up to you.
- To serve, use tongs to get a decent amount of the solid matter into the bowl and ladle over the liquid soup. Top with some sliced lime, chilli, spring onion, coriander/parsley and crushed peanuts.