Scallops and prawns chu chee

Murdoch Recipe Article Lead - narrow
Murdoch Recipe Article Lead - narrow 

Chu chee curry paste is the traditional thai flavour base for seafood. It is similar to a red curry paste, in that dried red chillies dominate, but the proportion of aromatics such as galangal, lemon grass, makrut (kaffir lime) leaves and coriander (cilantro) are greater.


Chu chee curry paste

10 dried long red chillies

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon shrimp paste

1 tablespoon white peppercorns

10, finely shredded makrut (kaffir lime) leaves

10, chopped red Asian shallots

2 teaspoons finely grated makrut (kaffir lime) zest

1 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro) stem and root

1 stem, white part only, lemon grass finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped galangal

1 tablespoon chopped, krachai optional

6 cloves, crushed garlic

540 ml (18 ½ fl oz) coconut cream (do not shake the tins)

500 g (1 lb 2 oz), scallops with roe removed

500 g (1 lb 2 oz), peeled, raw king prawns (shrimp) deveined, tails intact

2– 3 tablespoons fish sauce

2– 3 tablespoons palm sugar (jaggery)

8, finely shredded makrut (kaffir lime) leaves

2, thinly sliced red chillies

1 large handful Thai basil


1. Soak the chillies in boiling water for 5 minutes, or until soft. Remove the stem and seeds, then chop. Dry-fry the coriander seeds, shrimp paste wrapped in foil, and peppercorns in a frying pan over medium– high heat for 2– 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool. Using a mortar with a pestle, or a spice grinder, crush or grind the coriander and peppercorns to a powder.

2. Put the chopped chillies, shrimp paste and ground coriander and peppercorns with the remaining curry paste ingredients in a food processor, or in a mortar with a pestle, and process or pound to a smooth paste.

3. Put the thick coconut cream from the top of the tins in a saucepan, bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5– 10 minutes, or until the mixture ‘ splits’ (the oil starts to separate). Stir in 3 tablespoons of the curry paste, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until fragrant.

4. Stir in the remaining coconut cream, scallops and prawns, and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, makrut leaves and chilli, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in half the Thai basil and garnish with the remaining leaves.