The most famous Thai curries are green, red, yellow and massaman and this recipe for massaman curry is a nod to all the sights, sounds and flavours from my recent trip with Tourism Authority of Thailand to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Southeast Asia is one of the most popular holiday destinations for South Africans with its vibrant culture, iconic street food, world-renowned beaches and value for money attracting visitors from all over the world. But these destinations offer so much more outside of the popular and well-known locations where authentic food experiences can be discovered and enjoyed.
The Southern Tourism Corridor is a tourism cooperation corridor among Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established in 2007, with Myanmar invited to join in August 2018. Some of the provinces included in Thailand are Rayong and Chanthaburi, Kampot in Cambodia and Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam and I was invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to explore the corridor from a gastronomy perspective.
Tha Chalaep is a small town in the Chantaburi province of Thailand. Boarding a boat in the town takes you to one of the local oyster farms owned by Pa Louise Lung Thom, locally known as Uncle Thom. The trip offers a fascinating glimpse into his life as an oyster farmer with the visit culminating in a feast of fresh oysters, cooked crab, fried whole fish, fish cakes, tom yum soup and many more local dishes.
Not far from Tha Chalaep is Chanthaburi, the capital of the province. Start your visit at The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, one of the biggest churches in Thailand. From there it is a short walk to the 3 century Old Town Chanthaboon Waterfront, steeped in history as an important trade center and international port. Enjoy a slow walk in the narrow kilometer-long lane offering picturesque views of historic homes. The community is well known for its street food and you can enjoy freshly baked madeleines, sweets, iced coffees and durian ice cream as you wander the historic street.
Market visits are mandatory when in Thailand and the Charoensuk Market is a must-do. Offering a vast selection of fresh produce, seafood and ingredients, join locals as they do their daily shopping for cooking at home. Some stalls also offer freshly cooked traditional meals that can be purchased and enjoyed at home for those who are too busy to cook.
From Chanthaburi, travel to the Rayong province which offers a more peaceful beach experience than the more popular beach destinations in Thailand. The Rayong province is well known for its seasonal tropical fruit of rambutan, mangosteen and the world famous durian as well as salak that is grown all year round. The people of the province produce a variety of seafood products, the important ingredient, fish sauce, as well as shrimp paste and many dried fish products. A visit to the Ban Phe Market located near the fishing boat port offers a vast array of dried seafood products produced in the area. The market is usually a stop before taking a boat to Ko Samet or Samet Island.
Not to be missed in Rayong is Jumlong Sriraksa’s restaurant in Rayong called Khrua Ban Ban. The Masterchef Thailand’s finalist dishes up some of the best food we had on the trip and make sure you order his signature dish – Volcano Eggs! Click here for my Instagram Thailand stories to see the dish in action. He did not want to share the recipe but it seems to be the fluffiest souffle omelet with seafood, almost engulfed in flames as it is brought to the table. What a delight to see and enjoy.
Miang at Jumlong’s restaurant in Rayong
One of the most wonderful things in life is a chance to see something for the first time and even though Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are well-known destinations they offer so much more to see and taste when veering off the usual routes. Not only do you get to see something for the first time but you get to see and taste in a very authentic way.
Back to the recipe. Massaman is a mild Thai curry with Indian influences and usually, have potatoes and peanuts in the curry. The idea of cooking the whole chicken in the coconut milk flavoured with the massaman paste comes from the Irish food writer, Sophie White. Cooking the chicken this way results in a delicious and rich chicken curry. If you are in the mood for something spicier, replace the massaman curry paste with a fiery red curry paste. Just as delicious!
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Massaman Curry. If you’ve made the recipe share it with me by tagging @heinstirred on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #heinstirred. And click here for more moments from the Thailand leg of the trip.
- 3 tbsp oil
- Sea salt flakes
- 1 fresh organic chicken (about 1,5 kg)
- 50g about 3 tbsp Massaman curry paste
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed
- 1 thumb ginger, grated
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 100g peanuts
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (more to taste)
- juice of 1 lime
- 400g baby potatoes, quartered
- fresh coriander and jasmine rice to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pot and brown the chicken all over and set aside
- Add the onions, garlic, ginger and curry paste to the pot and cook for 5 minutes while stirring
- Add a glug coconut milk and cook the paste for another 5 mins while stirring
- Add the rest of the coconut milk and bring to the boil
- Place the chicken back in the pot
- It does not need to be fully submerged but ensure the coconut milk goes into the cavity
- Cover with the lid and let the chicken simmer for 30 minutes
- After 30 mins gently turn the chicken over, add the peanuts, lime juice and fish sauce and potatoes
- Cover again and simmer for another 30 minutes or so until the potatoes are cooked
- Lift the chicken out of the pot and divide into bowls with rice
- Taste the sauce and add more fish sauce if needed
- Ladle over some of the sauce and serve immediately