This is a wet curry, with soup-style sauce, from the north of Thailand. You'll need a good 10 minutes to pound the chilli paste using a mortar and pestle. It also uses the trunk of the banana plant, which has little taste but absorbs all the flavours, and a whole chicken, including the liver, kidneys and feet.
- 200 g banana trunk heart
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 1 small chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 makrut lime leaves
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 40 g dried glass noodles, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 4 coriander sprigs, sliced
- ¼ cup finely chopped lemongrass
- ¼ cup finely chopped galangal
- 4 makrut lime leaves, finely sliced
- ⅓ cup finely chopped garlic
- ⅓ cup finely chopped red Asian shallots
- 13 dried chillies, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fermented shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp fermented fish paste
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the chilli paste, in a mortar and pestle, add one ingredient at a time, and pound until a paste is formed. Begin with the lemongrass, followed by galangal, makrut lime leaves, garlic, red shallot and dried chilli. Finally, add the fermented shrimp and fish pastes and incorporate well. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add ½ cup water to the mortar, cleaning both mortar and pestle with the water. Pour water out and reserve for later.
Slice the banana trunk heart into 5 cm lengths, then cut into quarters. Place them in acidulated water (water with lime juice or vinegar) to stop them discolouring. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chilli paste, and sauté for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the chicken and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes.
Add the reserved water from the mortar, plus enough water to just cover the chicken. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface. Add the banana trunk and simmer for 5-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked and the banana trunk softens.
Add the makrut lime leaves, fish sauce and glass noodles. Stir well. Cook for a further 1 minute.
Garnish with spring onion and coriander to serve.