Preparation / Directions:
A colleague who recently visited the Darley Street Thai at its new location in Bayswater Road, Kings Cross, described this dish as "exquisite". Though the recipe may seem dauntingly lengthy, most of it is simply a long list of ingredients for red curry paste, which can be made in quantity and stored in a container in the fridge for 3-4 weeks for further use. Frozen kaffir limes can be bought very cheaply in good Asian stores, where the rest of the ingredients listed should also be available. Grate the limes for zest while they are stir frozen.
In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind to a powder 10 white peppercorns and a few sheaves of mace. Roast 1 teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste by zapping it in a microwave oven or putting it on a little piece of foil under the grill.
Put the pepper-mace mixture and the shrimp paste in a blender (David recommends a blender but some of us will have to make do with a food processor or the mortar and pestle) and add 3- 5 long red dried chiles, deseeded, washed and chopped, 4 cloves of true shallots, (or substitute the same quantity of Spanish onion), 1/2 stalk of lemon grass, sliced, 1 teaspoon galangal. peeled and chopped, 1/2 teaspoon kaffir lime zest, 1 tablespoon of coriander root, scraped and chopped, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a little water. Process to a very fine paste. This may take up to 10 minutes. Transfer to a storage jar.
In a medium-size pan, boil 250 mL coconut cream over high heat, stirring constantly, until the oil separates out, about 3-5 minutes. (If using canned coconut cream, don't shake the can -use the solid mass of coconut at the top of the can, plus as much of the rest as you need to make up 250mL. If it doesn't separate within 5 minutes, add a tablespoon of oil.) Add 2-3 tablespoons of red curry paste and fry for 5 minutes, stirring, until fragrant. Add 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar and fry until color deepens. Add 24 Coffin Bay scallops (12 if other dishes will be served simultaneously) and 125 mL coconut milk. Check for sweet-sour balance. Throw in 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded, 1 large fresh red chile, julienne, and 2 tablespoons of either coriander or basil leaves. Serve with jasmine rice.
From an article by Meryl Constance in The Sydney Morning Herald, 6/15/93