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Fish and Shellfish, Mains

Turmeric and coconut clam curry

Turmeric and coconut clam curry
Christina House / For The Times

Louis Tikaram, the 31-year-old executive chef at E.P. & L.P. (the name stands for the musical terms “extended play and long play”), a Thai-Fijian-Indian-Chinese restaurant in West Hollywood, is at a prep station in his open kitchen, behind a long, ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes | Serves 4

Roasted shrimp paste

  • About 3 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • Part of 1 banana leaf, optional

Step 1Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Spread a very thin layer of the paste onto a banana leaf or sheet of aluminum foil and roast until the paste is crisp and hardened, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool, then crush before using.

Step 2Alternatively, toast the paste in a dry nonstick skillet. Spread the shrimp paste over the base of a good-quality nonstick skillet. Heat the paste over medium-low heat, scraping and stirring the paste occasionally using a firm heatproof rubber spatula. Continue to heat the paste until it is dry and crumbly, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool, then crush to a powder before using.

Curry paste

  • About 2 cups (2 1/4 ounces, or 64 grams) dry red chiles, seeded
  • 5 fresh Thai chiles, preferably green
  • 4 to 6 (5 ounces, or 144 grams) shallots
  • 1 (1-inch) piece (scant 1-ounce, or 25 grams) galangal, peeled and sliced
  • About 1 (8-inch) stalk (1 1/2 ounces, or 45 grams) lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, sliced crosswise into rings
  • About 3 (3-inch) pieces (2 1/4 ounces, or 64 grams) turmeric peeled and sliced
  • About 34 cloves (5 2/3 ounces, or 160 grams) garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon crumbled Roasted shrimp paste

Step 1Place the dried chiles in a large bowl. Weight the chiles down and cover with warm water. Soak the chiles until they are softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the chiles and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the Thai chiles, shallots, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and roasted shrimp paste. Puree the ingredients to form a smooth, uniform paste. If the mixture is too dry, add water as needed to help puree the paste. This makes about 2 cups of paste, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Turmeric and coconut clam curry

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (8-ounces) coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons prepared curry paste, more if desired
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce, more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, more if desired
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste or liquid, more if desired
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar, more if desired
  • 20 clams in the shell, preferably New Zealand, diamond or similar, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
  • Chili oil, if desired
  • 6 sea beans (blanched Chinese long beans can be substituted)
  • Thai basil flowers, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced Fresno chiles, for garnish
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving

Step 1In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and cream to a boil. Stir in the curry paste and cook until the broth is aromatic and no longer tastes raw, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the broth with oyster sauce, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar.

Step 2Add the clams and cook on a low simmer until the clams are almost cooked, about 1 minute. Stir in the basil and continue to simmer until the clams are cooked and their shells are opened (discard any clams whose shells do not open).

Step 3Taste and adjust the seasonings and flavorings if desired. Plate the curry, garnishing with the sea beans, basil flowers and thinly sliced chiles. Serve alongside steamed jasmine rice.

Note: Adapted from E.P. & L.P. executive chef Louis Tikaram. While the recipe calls for clams, a variety of squid, scallops, mussels or other fish can be substituted. Prepared yellow curry paste can be substituted for the homemade if desired. Shrimp paste, galangal, fresh turmeric, tamarind paste, palm sugar, Thai basil and sea beans can be found at select Asian markets.


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