Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for hot-and-sour squash Thai curry | Vegan food and drink

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One of my favourite earthly pleasures is a Thai curry. For years, my favourite was the type of green curry you can find only in Thai kitchens situated in English pubs (a wonderful phenomenon), but after a recent trip to Phuket, that has been trumped by gaeng som, or hot-and-sour curry. It’s hugely enlivening, and rescued from being eye-wateringly tart by a touch of sweetness and some heat. The original dish is clear and soupy, which works in the searing Thai sun, but I’ve added some cashews to give it a silky and rich sauce that’s more suited to autumnal British weather.

Hot-and-sour squash Thai curry

Beware vegan fish sauces: some will ruin this dish, because they taste nothing like fish sauce. The only one I’ve found that works well is Thai Taste’s vegetarian “fish” sauce.

Prep 15 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

100g cashew nuts
1 butternut squash
Rapeseed oil
Fine sea salt
4 banana shallots
, peeled and roughly chopped (170g)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 Thai red chillies (8g), chopped
40g piece fresh ginger, skin on, chopped
1½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp lime juice
(from 1-2 limes)
1 tbsp caster sugar
60g tamarind paste
3 tbsp vegetarian fish sauce
(see intro; check the label if you need it to be gluten-free)
½ savoy cabbage (200g), cut into 1½cm- thick ribbons
Jasmine rice, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and line an oven tray with baking paper (reusable, ideally).

Put the cashews in a small, heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside to soak.

Top and tail the squash, then cut first across the belly and then into quarters. Scoop out and discard (or repurpose) the seeds, then cut each quarter into 4cm-wide wedges. Rub two tablespoons of oil over the wedges, sprinkle with salt and lay the wedges on the lined tray. Bake for 15 minutes, flip on to the other sides, bake for another 15 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Now for the curry paste. Drain the cashews and put them in a blender with the shallots, garlic, chillies, ginger, turmeric, lime juice, sugar, six tablespoons of water, three tablespoons of oil and a teaspoon and a half of salt. Blitz to a paste.

Put four tablespoons of oil in a large pan on a medium heat and, once the oil is hot, scrape in the paste from the blender. Cook, stirring often, for five minutes, then add the tamarind paste, “fish” sauce and a litre of water. Stir, then add the cabbage and the roast squash, and bring the mixture up to a bubble. Turn down the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender, then taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more fish sauce for saltiness or lime, if you wish.

Ladle the curry into bowls and serve with jasmine rice.

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