Coconut Curry with Fish and Noodles (Khanom Jeen Naam Yaa Plaa)
(Khanom Jeen Naam Yaa Plaa) SERVES 6–8 Active: 1 hr. • Total: 1 hr. 30 min. This thin curry is often served with fresh vegetables and toppings such as preserved cucumbers, radishes, eggs, and dried fish. Khanom jeen noodles might be hard to find; substitute thin dried bún, Vietnamese rice noodles, prepared according to the package directions. 3 lb. white-fleshed sea fish (such as threadfin, bream, fluke, or sea bass), scaled and gutted 1 tsp. Thai thin soy sauce ½ tsp. fine sea salt 15–18 dried Thai chiles (¼ oz.), stemmed 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (¼ cup) 3 lemongrass stalks, green tops trimmed, tough
outer layers discarded, thinly sliced (½ cup) 1 Tbsp. sliced fresh turmeric 1 Tbsp. Thai shrimp paste 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen shredded
coconut 12 kaffir lime leaves 1 tsp. sugar (optional) ½ tsp. Thai chicken bouillon powder (optional) Fish sauce (optional) 4 cups cooked khanom jeen or bún noodles Pineapple slices, Thai eggplants, hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced long beans, or Thai basil, for garnish
1 In a large pot, add the fish, soy sauce, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the fish is cooked, 8–10 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate to cool.
2 Strain the stock and discard any solids. Measure 2 cups liquid, then reserve the rest for another use. Clean out the pot. 3 Flake the meat from the cooled fish. Reserve 1 cup and save the rest for another use.
4 In a mortar and pestle, pound the salt and chiles to a coarse powder. Add the peppercorns and repeat. Add the garlic, lemongrass, and turmeric, and pound and grind to a coarse paste. Pound in the shrimp paste. Set aside.
5 Make the coconut cream and milk: In a large bowl, add the coconut and 2 cups of water. Mix until totally saturated, then squeeze and strain the meat, reserving the liquid. (This is the coconut cream.) Add the meat back to the bowl, along with 4 more cups of water. Mix until saturated, then strain the liquid into the stock pot. (This is the coconut milk.)
6 In a blender, purée the fish, curry paste, stock, and half of the prepared coconut cream, then add to the stockpot. Bring to a simmer over mediumlow heat. Add the kaffir lime leaves, the remaining coconut cream, and the sugar and bouillon powder if using. Return to a low simmer for 18–20 minutes; do not boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce as needed.
7 To serve, top ½ cup of noodles in a shallow bowl with about 1⅓ cups of the curry. Serve with the toppings on the side.