This intensely flavoured curry is super-quick to make, and leans heavily on kitchen staples. So, with a reasonably well-stocked pantry (you can freeze lime leaves, chillies and ginger), this will be ready in no time at all. It will also happily mingle with more labour-intensive dishes for a Thai feast. Buying quality frozen Australian prawns to have on hand brings this one step closer to greatness, too.
6cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bird's-eye chillies, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp salt flakes
2 tbsp fried shallots (available at Asian grocers)
60ml vegetable or peanut oil
1½ heaped tbsp tom yum paste (check gluten-free if required)
12 large green prawns, deveined and peeled, leaving tails and heads on
400ml can coconut cream
5 kaffir lime leaves
1½ tbsp palm sugar
3 Lebanese cucumbers (or 1 continental cucumber), semi-peeled in strips, cut lengthways into 3cm chunks
leaves of ½ bunch coriander and/or Thai basil
100g salted beer nuts, skin on, crushed
10 prawn crackers, cooked per packet instructions
steamed rice, to serve
1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the ginger, garlic, chilli, pepper and salt to a paste. Add the shallot and grind, then mix in the oil and tom yum paste.
2. Stir-fry the paste in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat for three minutes. Push the paste to one side of the pan and add the prawns. Fry for two minutes on each side, being careful that the paste doesn't burn. Remove the prawns and set aside.
3. Add the coconut cream, lime leaves, palm sugar and one cup of water to the pan, combine with the paste, and simmer for four minutes. Return the prawns to the pan, simmer for two minutes, then stir in the cucumber at the last minute.
4. Tip into a serving dish and scatter the herbs and nuts over the top. Serve with the crackers and rice on the side.