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.
What You Will Need
- 3 lb. white-fleshed sea fish (such as threadfin, bream, fluke, or sea bass), scaled and gutted
- 1 tsp. Thai thin soy sauce
- 1⁄2 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)
- 1⁄2 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
- 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.
- Strain the stock and discard any solids. Measure 2 cups liquid, then reserve the rest for another use. Clean out the pot.
- Flake the meat from the cooled fish. Reserve 1 cup and save the rest for another use.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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 medium-low 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.
- 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.