Ready in 1 hour
This recipe is inspired by The Oriental's Cookery School in Bangkok. The unique flavours of Thai cooking are so simple and ? because you can use a good-quality cooked chicken from the supermarket ? this recipe is actually incredibly easy. You can, if you like, freeze the leftover coconut milk and cream for use later on.
You will also need a large flameproof casserole or a wok.
The curry paste can be made well ahead of time and there's absolutely no work involved if you have a food processor or a liquidiser because all you do is simply pop all the curry paste ingredients in and whiz it to a paste (stopping once or twice to push the mixture back down from the sides on to the blades). In Thailand, of course, all these would be pounded by hand with a pestle and mortar, but food processors do cut out all the hard work.
What you need to end up with is a coarse paste but don't worry if it doesn't look very green ? that's because I have cut the chilli content; in Thailand they use about 35! If you want yours to be green, then this is the answer! Your next task is to prepare all the rest of the ingredients.
To make the curry, first place the tins of coconut milk on a work surface, upside down. Then open them and inside you will see the whole thing has separated into thick cream and thin watery milk. Divide these by pouring the milk into one bowl and the cream into another. Next place a wok, without any oil in it, over a very high heat and then as soon as it becomes really hot, add three-quarters of the coconut cream. What you do now is literally fry it, stirring all the time so it doesn't catch. What will happen is it will start to separate, the oil will begin to seep out and it will reduce. Ignore the curdled look ? this is normal. You may also like to note that when the cream begins to separate you can actually hear it give off a crackling noise. Next add the curry paste and three-quarters of the coconut milk, which should be added a little at a time, keeping the heat high and letting it reduce down slightly. Stay with it and keep stirring to prevent it sticking. Then add the Thai fish sauce and palm sugar, stir these in and then add the chicken pieces and the peppercorns. Stir again and simmer everything for about 4-5 minutes until the chicken is heated through. Then just before serving, place the lime leaves one on top of the other, roll them up tightly and slice them into very fine shreds. Then add them along with the red chilli and torn basil leaves. Serve with Thai fragrant rice.