Green Curry with Fish/Shrimp Dumplings – Gkaeng Kiow Wahn Loogchin Bplah/Gkoong (or Kaeng Kiew Wan Lookchin Pla/Gung)*
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 1995 Kasma Loha-unchit.
- One 14 oz. frozen package of ground featherback fish without additives
- 3/4 lb. medium-size shrimp
- 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah) for kneading with fish and shrimp
- Fresh home-made green curry paste (see below)
- 2 long Asian eggplants, or 10 round Thai eggplants (makeua bproh) (see Notes and Pointers, below)
- 3-4 cups, or 2 cans, coconut milk
- 3-4 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), to taste
- 1-2 Tbs. palm or coconut sugar, to taste
- 1/2 cup pea eggplants (makeua puang), or substitute fresh shelled peas (see Notes and Pointers, below)
- 2 fingers gkrachai root (rhizome, lesser ginger), finely slivered
- 4-6 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 green serrano peppers, cut each into 6-8 long slivers with seeds
- 1 cup Thai sweet basil leaves and flower buds (bai horapa)
Green Curry Paste:
- 4 dark green serrano peppers, chopped with seeds
- 15-20 dark green Thai chillies, chopped with seeds
- 10 white peppercorns, freshly ground
- 1 Tbs. coriander seeds, lightly toasted till fragrant, then ground
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, freshly ground
- 1 tsp. course sea salt
- Bottom half of a stalk of lemon grass, trimmed and cut into very thin rounds
- 1 tsp. finely chopped Thai galanga
- 1 tsp. finely chopped kaffir lime peel
- 2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro roots, or substitute with 1 Tbs chopped stems
- 1/2 tsp. finely chopped peeled fresh turmeric
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp. gkabpi shrimp paste
Defrost the package of ground fish and add 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Knead while the fish is still cold, with your hand or in a food processor, until it is very sticky. Chill.
Shell the shrimp and toss with 1/4 teaspoon white pepper and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Reduce to a fine paste in a food processor, then chill.
Prepare the curry paste ingredients. Grind the dry spices finely in a spice grinder or with a dry stone mortar and pestle. Set aside. For galanga, use the stronger-tasting reddish brown roots imported from Thailand – if available in frozen packages at Thai and Southeast Asian markets; if not, use the fresh root. If using dried kaffir lime peel, soak first to soften. Pound the herbs and chillies a little at a time, starting with the more fibrous ones, until each is reduced to a paste. Salt will provide some abrasiveness to help reduce the tougher ingredients. Combine the pounded herbs and chillies and ground dry spices and pound together with the gkabpi shrimp paste to form a fine, well-blended paste.
For long Asian eggplants, trim off the tops and cut crosswise into 2-inch segments. Then cut each segment in half lengthwise and each half into 2 to 3 strips. For Thai eggplants, cut into halves or quarters depending on their size. Prepare the remaining ingredients as instructed. In a large pot, heat about a cup of thick coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk over medium-high heat until the oil begins to separate or the cream looks thick and bubbly. Add the curry paste and fry in the cream until aromatic and the flavors well-blended (4 to 5 minutes). Pour in the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil. Season to taste with fish sauce and palm sugar. Add the eggplant and simmer a few minutes uncovered (if using Thai and pea eggplants, add these first and simmer 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are half cooked).
Increase heat to high and bring the curry sauce to a rolling boil. Using two teaspoons, drop the ground fish and shrimp mixtures in small bite-size lumps into the green curry sauce. Tear the kaffir lime leaves at a few places to the midrib to release their aromatic oils and add immediately to the sauce. (Add the fresh peas if using instead of pea eggplants at this time.) Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the fish and shrimp dumplings are done (they float when they are cooked through). Stir in the slivered green serrano peppers, gkrachai or lesser ginger and basil. When the basil is wilted, turn off heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve hot with lots of plain steamed rice.
Serves 8 to 10 in a multi-course Thai-style meal.
Notes and Pointers
To add a greener color to the curry, the fresh leaves of chilli plants can be chopped and pounded in with the curry paste.
There are many kinds of small eggplants in Thailand. Round ones the size of tomatillas, which we call ma-keua bprawh, are very good in this curry. Deeper green on top and graduating to a lighter bottom, these are seedy eggplants and taste nothing like the large purple aubergines. Cooked until softened, they soak in the curry flavors and add a thickness to the sauce. Other smaller members of the eggplant family are ma-keua puang and resemble large green peas, though their taste is entirely different. They are bitter, but when simmered in the curry sauce they impart an extraordinary roundedness to the sauce. Much of their bitter bite dissipates when they have completely softened with sufficient cooking. Both these eggplants are available in Thai and Southeast Asian markets, especially during the warmer months of the year, though the latter is usually harder to find. Specialty produce markets and gourmet supermarkets have also started to carry them.
There is a variety of long eggplants in Thailand that is green in color rather than purple like the ones you find in Chinese and Japanese markets. They are sweet and very flavorful and are excellent in greet curry. From time to time, I have seen them sold at farmer's markets. If you can find them, try them in this recipe.
*Because the Thai language has it's own script, there are different ways of transliterating Thai into English. The more phonetic version is Gkaeng Kiew Wahn Loogchin Bplah/Gkoong; a more usual spelling is Kaeng Kiow Wan Lookchin Pla/Gung. See A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.
See Also: How Fish Sauce is Made
Offsite: Easy Thai Green Curry Recipe, an Interview with Kasma Loha-unchit, and Musings on Thai Curry Pastes. (Opens in new page.)