We have wanted to try this recipe from Neil Perrys book, Good Food, for a while now, since my bf loves curries, and he especially loves hot ones. The picture in the book makes it look lethal so bf was instantly attracted to it. One look at the ingredient list and he decided this was the one. 12 chillies.
I explained to him that the 12 chillies go into the paste and you dont use it all, however he was hooked. I was cooking the 12 chilli curry.
We went down to Wanneroo Markets and picked up all the necessary ingredients, quite a few that I dont have - shrimp paste, galangal, kaffir lime leaves... and came home with an affordable bag of goodies to get stuck into this recipe.
Deseeding 12 chillies wasnt great, Im not gonna lie. My fingers were dangerous little appendages for the rest of the night, its hard to get all that chilli oil thats seeped into your skin. The things I do for curry...
The curry itself is quite easy... You make a paste, cook it off, add the meat, tamarind, lime leaves, and coconut milk and let it simmer for 1-1.5 hours, and serve with rice. Easy.
However unless you already have a well stocked pantry full of SE asian ingredients, a trip to the asian grocer is in order - however we found the items inexpensive and easy to find. The only thing we didnt get, was fresh tumeric, and to be honest we didnt look that hard.
Heres the ingredient list for the paste (this is enough to make about 500ml of paste, which is enough for approx 4 curries. I have portioned mine out and frozen them in labelled bags, so another curry is but a quick defrost away!)
- 15g shrimp paste
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 5g fresh turmeric, grated or 1 tsp ground turmeric
- Finely grated zest of 1 kaffir lime (I used normal lime)
- 40g ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 40g galangal, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stem, white part only chopped
- 12 long red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
- 8 garlic cloves chopped
And for the rest of the curry you'll need
- 800g topside beef, cubed (I used chump steak, was fine)
- 150g rendang curry paste
- 600ml Coconut milk (I used light)
- 1.5 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
- 1.5 tablespoons grated palm sugar
Wow. Seal that baby up and put it away in the fridge until you need it again... get it outta the kitchen! I dunno how Im gonna use it all up, 15g isnt much, and I bought the whole block! On the upside though, its not expensive... A little info for you, Belacan is Malay for shrimp paste, Terasi is Indonesian, and Ngapi is Thai. For all other info you might want on shrimp paste, check out this site (thanks to TFP for sharing the link with me via twitter).
You pretty much just blend all the ingredients together to make the paste, and like I said you have enough for 3 or 4 curries.
Now is the time to turn on your exhaust fan, open the windows or doors. You're gonna fry that paste up and with 12 chillies you don't wanna be taking any chances regarding the coughing fit you may encounter.
Truth be told, I didnt have a particularly bad experience, like I have had before cooking chillies. But I started out with the door open and the fan on full. Stir the paste around for a few minutes and you'll smell it from a mile away. I could pick up the shrimp paste more than I would have liked, but everything else smelled great.
Add the meat, coconut milk, lime leaves, tamarind paste, and leave to simmer for 1- 1.5 hours. Make sure you stir it often, otherwise it can burn a bit. Also make sure you're not watching a Western Derby which goes down to goal kick after the siren... I admit I did slightly burn it a bit. Not much, it was all good. But my team lost so it wasn't worth letting my curry stick!
This next bit allows you to do what you want to your curry depending on what you want from it. If you like a creamier, saucier curry then cook it a little less until the sauce gets to a consistancy you like, otherwise cook it longer. However make sure you choose the right steak for it.
If you want a saucier curry, I would strongly advise you use a better cut of meat than chump or casserole steak, as it will be tougher than youd like, due to the shorter cooking time. You can add more liquid if you want a cheaper cut but a sauce that goes further, however I can't really tell you what that would do to the end result. Probably not much but dont quote me on that!
Bf likes his curries dry, so without too much sauce. He's also not a fan of curries with coconut milk (I did tell him it was in this curry but he was blinded by the 12 chillies), so he wanted his cooked down as far as it would go. The meat was still a bit tough for me, so I added some water to give it more time. In the end, we were hungry and just ate it, but it could have done with a bit longer to get the meat falling apart, which is how I like it in a curry. Add the palm sugar and salt last, to taste. It has a really tangy flavour to it when you're stealing bits of it during the cooking process (don't lie, you all do it too!), and so using the palm sugar will mellow out the flavour and make it alot more rounded.
We served with rice and some fresh lebanese bread we picked up (not authentic I know, but tasty nonetheless!). You can improve this curries presentation dramatically by topping it with some chopped coriander, however I hate the stuff so left it off.
Overall, it was a decent curry, but we both agreed that it was definately not the best curry Id made. I will make it again, as I have enough curry paste to feed an army, but next time I will cook it a bit less to keep the sauce creamy and coconutty - and eat it when bf isnt home lol. I think frying off the paste and then putting it in the slow cooker might be a winner, as it definately needs to have tender, fall apart meat.
I think its also worth mentioning that this curry is not hot.
Someone explain this to me.
There was NO heat, whatsoever.
Well after this curry being a bit of a let down, I still had 2 serves of the paste left, frozen in bags. I decided to use them in a laksa inspired soup when I had a bit of a cold.
I fried off the paste until the house smelled like shrimp paste, garlic, ginger and lime, and added coconut milk and 2 cups of chicken stock, and let it simmer down for a while. I added some sliced chicken thigh to poach, and later some udon noodles, bamboo shoots, asparagus, broccoli, a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of soy... It was nice but not as nice as laksas Ive had from restaurants! It was also, again, not spicy at all.
Its nice and versatile, in that you dont need to use it just in a rendang, and can make things a few nights in a row from the amount of paste the recipe yields, and not feel like you're repeating yourself too much.
But I still think theres something missing from this paste... Im not sure if its something Ive done with it, or if its the recipe... Its not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but its not mind blowing either.