Spicy Sour Fish & Okra Curry : แกงส้มกระเจี๊ยบเขียว
I went to a new branch of "Taling Pling" restaurant in Sukhumvit 36 for lunch with my mate a few days ago. I saw this "Gaeng Som with Okra" in their meu. Out of curiosity, I ordered this dish and I was not disappointed. Its absolutely delicious. I have to confess here that I had never tried okra before. (I know that I can be narrow-minded when it comes to food. I need to learn to be more open-minded. A lesson is well learned!) Then, I came back home and dreamt about it. Yes, its that good... I told myself that I need to cook it. Yesterday, I went out to find some okra and managed to cook this curry. Hence this recipe.
Lots of fresh Seabass Fillets or Shrimps (shelled and deveined)
Lots of organic Okra, trimmed and halved.
Lime Juice/ Wedges
Water, 5-6 cups
5-6 Dried Red Chillies, soaked in water till soft and roughly chopped (You can add as many chillies as you like. This depends on how you can handle spiciness.)
5-6 Medium Shallots, roughly chopped
1-2 Grachai or "Lesser Ginger"- Rhizome grows in bunches of slender and long orange finger-like roots and, in Thailand, its normally used in fish or seafood dishes.), peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 or 1 Tablespoon of Shrimp Paste
Set a pot with water on high heat, bring to the boil. Add half of shrimp/seabass, leave till cooked through. Do not stir. Turn off the heat, remove and keep dried one side.
First, we need to prepare the curry paste. Using stone mortar and pestle, pound all ingredients (for curry paste) till very fine. Add cooked shrimp/seabass and pound till everything is mixed well. By adding cooked shrimp/seabass meat into the paste, this will help to thicken the curry, so the broth will not be too watery (like in the cheap version of Gaeng Som that requires no effort that you often see on the street side, in the market or restaurants that the cooks couldn't care less for the quality.) and it helps to add more flavour to the broth as well. Keep the paste one side. (To make it easier, you can just put everything into a blender. Press a button and its done! Cooking the paste this way is very easy but the paste won't be as good. Oh well, you can't have it all.)
Now the broth, set another large pot with water on medium-high heat, bring to the boil. Add curry paste, bring to the boil again. Add the second half of fresh shrimp/seabass. Do not stir and leave to cook. Wait till the broth is back to the boil. Add okra and add fish sauce, tamarind paste and a little of palm sugar. Taste if more seasoning is needed. The soup should taste spicy, salty, slightly sweet and very sour. To me its important to not leave the okra in the hot broth too long as I like the okra green and crunchy. Turn off the heat. Squeeze some lime on top just before serving. (It needs to taste tangy to be delicious. If you added the lime while its cooking, the sour favour would be disappeared/ruined by the heat.) Serve hot with a cup of steamed wholegrain rice. Delicious!