"I think gaeng som is my mum's favourite curry," says Anderson. "I became aware of just how much she loves it when, during a holiday to Thailand after not having been back for many years, she ordered this dish at every meal. In Thailand they usually serve curries and soups in a 'mor fai' – a sort of aluminium hotpot lit with a gas burner or candle. It keeps the curry hot-hot-hot and mouths burning-burning-burning, but that's the way Thais like it. It took me a long time to appreciate this as a kid – most of the time it was too hot and spicy for me to enjoy. But now, as an adult, the merits of eating spicy food at hot temperatures in humid conditions is totally something I'm into. Detox! This curry paste makes three times what you need, but it will keep for a month in the freezer."
- 100 gm skinless firm white fish, such as snapper, cobia or kingfish
- 1.125 litres (4½ cups) chicken stock
- 250 gm green papaya, peeled, quartered lengthways and cut into large pieces
- 125 ml (½ cup) tamarind concentrate
- 85 gm (¼ cup) soft palm sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
- 16 green king prawns, peeled, deveined, heads and tails intact
- 2 tbsp lime juice (or to taste)
- Steamed rice, to serve
- 30 gm fresh red turmeric, coarsely chopped
- 5-7 dried long red chillies, soaked in cold water (10 minutes) and coarsely chopped
- 1½ tbsp dried birdseye chillies, coarsely chopped
- 50 gm red shallots, coarsely chopped
- 50 gm wild ginger (see note), coarsely chopped
- 1¼ tbsp shrimp paste
- 1For curry paste, add ingredients to a mortar in order of toughness starting with turmeric, then chillies, shallots, ginger and shrimp paste, pounding until a paste. Keep ⅓ cup curry paste in mortar; the remainder can be frozen.
- 2Poach fish in a saucepan of simmering water over medium heat until firm (5 minutes), then cool. Add fish to reserved curry paste and pound with a mortar and pestle to a fine paste.
- 3Add stock and fish paste to a small saucepan and bring the boil, stirring, over medium heat. Add papaya, tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and 2 tsp salt, and simmer until papaya begins to turn translucent (12-15 minutes). Add prawns and simmer until opaque (3 minutes). Add lime juice, seasoning to taste, and serve with steamed rice.
Wild ginger, also known as krachai or Chinese keys, is available from Thai grocers.
Drink suggestion: Off-dry, tangy chenin blanc. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.