If you saw Dani Venn on Masterchef Australia a few years back, then you know that she has an insatiable appetite for Asian cuisine and a very infectious giggle! We’re thrilled that Dani has joined our Intrepid Foodies team and she’s just back from Thailand with a recipe that will have you craving your own Food Adventure…
“Lately I have been very busy working in Thailand, eating my body weight in new culinary discoveries, snapping photographs like a woman possessed at every produce market conceivable (even one that is built quite inconveniently on top of a railway track!) and learning the fine art of Thai cooking. I know what you’re thinking, that’s not “work”. You see I was very lucky to be invited to take part in one of Intrepid Travel’s new range of epic Food Adventures that are designed for travellers who want to immerse themselves in the exotic flavours of their chosen destination by unearthing hidden eateries, local hot spots and to sample loads of tasty delicacies. Now who amongst you wouldn’t want to do that?
What I loved about this 5-day Bite-size Break is that it pushed me to try things I wouldn’t normally do if I were on my own, like going to the Tha Kha floating market that’s about 1.5 hours out of Bangkok (not the inner-city touristy one) where I was able to sample at least eight different dishes without looking like a total pig because I was part of a group (there were 4 of us)!
Being with a local, our fabulous guide Soon, meant that I was also introduced to the most incredible dishes that I otherwise wouldn’t have known to order. One of the most interesting meals I tried was Fish Maw Soup, which is the air bladder of a fish, dried out and then rehydrated in this sweet gooey broth. It sounds disgusting but it turned out to be one of my favourite dishes on the trip! I also saw first hand how coconut palm sugar is made and let me tell you how much more I appreciate this humble ingredient after seeing the hard work that goes into making it.
It sounds clichéd, but every experience was a highlight and so different from the next, however being a passionate cook I was super excited about taking part in an afternoon of Thai cooking at our homestay just out of Chang Mai. Our gorgeous teacher Aoi (pronounced “oi”) invited us into her serene home and we spent the afternoon cooking up a mammoth feast for our dinner. We learnt how to make around 10 different dishes including Gaeng Hung Lay Gai, or Hung Lay Chicken Curry, which is a recipe I’ve shared with you below.
This curry is so different from any other Thai curry I’ve had before, because it contains masala, or Indian curry powder, and doesn’t include coconut milk, yet still retains an authentic Thai flavour with aromatics like lemongrass and ginger being added as well as having the essential balance of sweet, sour, hot and salty. Trust me when I tell you that it’s amazing. I’ve already cooked this dish 3 times since I’ve been home!”
Hung Lay Chicken Curry
A northern Thailand curry that originates from the Burmese border and has an Indian influence.
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour marinating time
Cook Time: 1 hour
What do you need?
5 dried red chillies (more or less depending on your sensitivity to spice!)
1 tablespoon shallot, diced
2 tablespoon garlic, diced
2 tablespoon ginger, diced (Aoi uses galangal but if you can’t find ginger is fine)
2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely diced
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of Indian curry powder (I’ve been using Clive of India)
1kg chicken thigh on the bone (I highly recommend on the bone over just a thigh, you will get so much more flavour!)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon palm sugar, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce
How to make it:
Using a large mortar and pestle, pound curry paste ingredients in the order listed, pound each ingredient well before adding the next ingredient until you have achieved a paste-like consistency.
Place chicken in a large mixing bowl, add curry paste and combine well rubbing the paste into the chicken. Cover with cling wrap, place in fridge and leave to marinate for at least one hour.
Place large saucepan over medium – high heat, add vegetable oil, once hot add chicken and seal the sides of the chicken until you achieve a light golden colour.
Add water to the saucepan just enough to just cover the chicken. Add remaining ingredients then allow water to come to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stir occasionally and allow water to reduce until it becomes slightly thicker and intense in flavour. Taste, it should be a balance of sweet, sour, salty and hot. Adjust ingredients if needed. Serve hot with steamed rice or roti bread.
Dani will be sharing her Asian cooking tips and talking about her Intrepid Food Adventure at the Good Food and Wine Show in Perth on 19 and 20 July, 2013. Plus find out more about Dani and discover why her motto is “eat, laugh, live” on her blog at danivenn.com.