Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Cambodian pangolin jungle curry.

Cooking time is nearly an hour. Clearly, we are not fooling around here. And catching a Cambodian pangolin can take ages, because they have been hunted almost to extinction to assauge the arcane and insatiable urges of the Chinese billions. So make it easier on yourself. Use chicken.

Serves 2
1 tablespoons peanut oil
500g kg chicken legs, skin on
3 red chillies
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup chicken stock
1 kaffir lime leaf
fish sauce, to taste
thai basil, julienne green onions, bean shoots and fried shallots
garnish with steamed rice and lime wedges
coconut halves for serving, go on

Jungle curry paste:
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon green Kampot pepper, fresh from the fields (or tinned, why not - we've already skimped on the pangolin)
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar (shaved, mind you - the last thing we need is hairy palm sugar - hairy palms being the first sign of madness)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup green curry paste
(the second sign of madness, apparently, is looking for them)

The inherent spiciness of this dish can be offset by a little residual sugar in the wine. So shall we have a dalliance with a 2008 Alkoomi Frankland River Riesling? Or perhaps try a flirtatious little gewurztraminer? What the hell, let's down a flagon of muscat.

Fill a couple of tumblers with muscat. To make your jungle curry paste, wrap shrimp paste in a sheet of foil, place in a hot wok or frying pan and cook on both sides for 2 minutes or until fragrant and dry. Remove and set aside to cool completely. Then get out the old mortar and pestle. Remember to swish out the residues of whatever drug concoctions you've been grinding up lately. Sudden and inexplicable hallucinations ruin too much fine cuisine. Pound the shrimp paste and peppercorns in a mortar with a pestle until well combined, then stir in remaining ingredients. There you have it, jungle curry paste. Now if only we had a pangolin.

Heat the oil in a wok over a medium heat. Cook your chicken and chillies in batches until browned all over. Don't worry if it's not cooked through, we'll deal with that red herring later. Just take another swig of muscat and remove the chicken. Add the curry paste and cook over a low heat, stirring until fragrant. Stir in coconut milk, stock and lime leaves, then return the chicken to the pan.

Put some vinyl on the stereo. I recommend Brian Eno's 1974 classic Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). Play side one, which begins with Burning Airlines Give You So Much More, followed by Back In Judy's Jungle.

Simmer uncovered until side one has finished and the sauce has thickened slightly. The chicken will have cooked through by this time. Pink chicken is the last thing we need. Worse than hairy palms. Serve the curry in half a coconut. It's quaint. Garnish with combined basil, onions, bean shoots and fried shallots. Turn over the record and serve with rice and lime wedges. Not the record, the curry in those coconut shells.

Get stuck into the muscat again, so by the time Phil Manzanera's one-note guitar solo kicks in during The True Wheel, you'll be trolloped enough to believe this is a rare display of true genius. Which, of course, it is.

This recipe was culled from the pages of that perennial magazine of doctors waiting rooms from Shark Bay to Ulla Dulla, the Australian Women's Weekly.

1 comment:

Dr Michelle Frantom (aka Dr Grafix aka Munted Doll) said...

There is some cultural group/nation (maybe the japanese) that calls the Chinese 'the eaters' - for very good reason by the look of it. They will eat bloody anything unfortunately for all the animals of the world.