This post is really testing my memory. I was just going through my food photos from this year and foud a picture of a curry that I really wanted to post but never had time.
A whole 18 weeks ago, just before the end of the Easter holidays, I was contemplating what my final term at Highgate would bring. Late nights I suspected and bad moods at arriving home hungry and exhausted at 9:30pm. I had been ill prepared for these in the previous two terms. People kept telling me it would get easier and I’d cope better as I went along. It was true to some extent, but if I was to keep preparing a full worksheet for every lesson, leaving school before 7:30 wouldn’t be an option.
We decided that, in order to fend off the near psychotic rages that had ensued when Goon had promised to cook dinner but forgotten, it would be a good idea to stock up the freezer with home made ready meals. Goon exercised his training from the previous year and made a vat of bolognese which divided into 10 portions. I went down to Sainsbury’s and discovered that they had free range pork and stewing beef on offer. The beef became 6 frozen portions of beef in Guinness. The pork became the slightly psychadelic curry pictured above.
This is a Cambodian Style pork and butternut squash curry. The intense yellow flavour comes from the use of turmeric and a herbal paste called Kroeung, which is made from blending lemongrass, turmeric, ginger or galangal, onion, lime leaf and garlic.
The paste here is a lot wetter than normal, because I only have a crappy stick blender and so needed a bit of water to process the spices.
Kroeung is a classic flavouring in Khmer cooking and quite distinctive, being earthy and yet fresh and citrusy at the same time. It provides the principal flavouring to many curries, soups, stir fries and marinades. It certainly dominated this curry, providing a nice balance to the creaminess of the coconut milk.
I’m afraid I can’t remember exact quantities for this curry but the method went something like this…
Cambodian Pork and Butternut Curry (Adapted from The Complete Vietnamese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan)
Approximate method for making 8-10 Portions
For the Kroeung Paste, process
- 3 chopped lemon grass stalks, trimmed with the tough outer leaves removed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- a large piece of ginger (25g)
- 25g fresh turmeric (I had to substitute around 4 teaspoons ground)
with a little water if necessary to bind. This paste will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Now for the curry…
The recipe suggests using pork loin but we had a 1.6kg boneless leg. This was cut into bite size pices and browned in batches over a high heat.
Stir fry a large knob (4-5 inches) of finely chopped ginger, 8 chopped green chillies and 2-3 very finely diced onions in some vegetable oil until the onion is soft. Add 6 tablespoons of the kroeung paste and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Throw in a 3 or 4 teaspoons of ground turmeric and a couple of teaspoons each of fenugreek and sugar and stir fry for a minute or so. Now add the pork loin and stir to coat. Add a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, two tins (approx 1 litre) of coconut milk and bring to a gentle bubble. After 5 minutes or so add the diced flesh of 2 small butternut squash and 5 or 6 lime leaves. Allow to bubble until the squash is almost cooked. Adjust spicing at this stage if necessary. Continue to cook until the pork and squash are cooked through.
The portions we ate that night were garnished liberally with chopped coriander and mint and served on plain boiled rice. The other six portions went in the freezer and were almost equally good when reheated, although the squash disintegrated a bit.
This was the first time I’d encountered this herbal paste, so it seems like a good idea to enter this post to Kalyn’s long standing event, Weekend Herb Blogging. It must have been a year since I last took part but hopefully I can make more entries soon. The host this week is Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp. Visit her site on Monday for a round up of educational and entertaining posts.
Apparently the paste I used is just one of a several different types of Kroeung. Variations include adding red chilli pulp, making the paste red or rhizome, making it a light green. Most pastes include lemongrass, galangal and turmeric or kaffir lime leaves, giving Khmer cooking its distinctive flavour.
More detail is here at the Wikipedia page on Kroeung.