Green bird's eye chillies give this curry its colour and heat. Combine with Neil's other recipes to make an Asian banquet
The curry paste in this recipe can be used as a base for a stir-fry. Just add the paste, palm sugar and fish sauce after stir-frying your meat or fish and you have an amazingly flavoured dish. Serves four, or eight as part of a shared banquet.
For the curry paste
5 coriander seeds
5 cumin seeds
5 white peppercorns
6 wild green (bird's eye) chillies, chopped
3 fresh long green chillies, seeded and chopped
2 lemongrass stems, pale part only, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh galangal
10 red Asian shallots, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 coriander (cilantro) roots, scraped and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh turmeric
Finely grated zest of 1 makrut lime
1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and roasted until fragrant
For the prawn curry
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) coconut cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 makrut lime leaves
80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) fish sauce
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar (jaggery)
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) coconut milk
8 raw large king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
4 wild green (bird's eye) chillies, lightly crushed
3 fresh long red chillies, halved lengthways and seeded
10 Thai pea eggplants (aubergines)
5 apple eggplants (aubergines), quartered
12 sweet Thai basil leaves
For the green curry paste, lightly roast the coriander and cumin seeds and the peppercorns in a dry, heavy-based frying pan, then grind to a powder in a coffee or spice grinder. Pound the chillies, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, garlic, coriander roots, turmeric, lime zest and shrimp paste in a mortar with a pestle.
Pass all the ground and pounded ingredients through a mincer twice, or use a blender to process until smooth, adding a little water or oil if necessary. You can also just keep pounding with the pestle to produce a fine paste. Set aside 130g (4¾ oz/about ½ cup) of paste for the curry. (Any leftover paste will freeze until next time.)
To make the curry, place the coconut cream and oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. When the coconut cream splits (the oil and solids separate), add the curry paste. Crush the lime leaves in your hand, add them to the pan and fry for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is sizzling and aromatic (use your nose).
Add the fish sauce and cook for one minute. Add the palm sugar and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add the prawns, chillies and eggplants and simmer gently for four minutes or until the prawns are just cooked and the pea and apple eggplants are still a little crunchy. Stir in the basil just before serving.
• These recipes come from Simply Good Food by Neil Perry, published by Murdoch Books. Available in Australia for $39.95 or from Guardian Books in the UK for £16.
Photo: Green curry of prawns from Simply Good Food by Neil Perry. Photograph: Murdoch Books