Bringing up children is a trial as well as a joy. Their lack of worldly experience gives them a razor-sharp clarity that fades with advancing years and is often gone by the time they’re 10. When our youngest was younger, she possessed this clarity and wielded it without mercy. Often in my wisdom, I told both her and her sister “There is no such thing as a stupid question. Only a stupid answer.” Once, in frustration, I responded to yet another “Are we there yet?” from the back seat of the car with “Don’t ask stupid questions.”
“But Dad, you said that there is no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid answers. Does that mean you are stupid?” came the chirpy reply. My eldest used to believe that handbags were ham-bags because one did not carry their hands around in a bag. She also had great difficulty pronouncing “hospital”. My efforts to help her get it right included holding a towel and saying “Hos Pit Towel”. Wasted energy. Also wasted has been my trying to get the younger to pronounce “Vietnamese”. The best she has managed to date has been more like “Fiat, Ma, Knees”. She is 20 now. If I can’t get her to say it, perhaps I can get her to eat it? That’s why I constructed a Vietnamese Mango and Prawn Curry with Thai Fragrant Rice.
Don’t. I repeat Don’t use shop bought curry powder. Make your own. It is well worth it. Here’s what you will need for the curry powder
- Ground ginger
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- White pepper
- Chili flakes (your call on the heat)
- A couple of cloves
- A couple of dried bay leaves
Before concocting this, I read a number of different recipes in books and online. My mix is a rough approximation of what I had, what I thought might be right and, with the chili flakes, what I thought the Wife could stand. It worked really well. Simply put the lot into a dry pan and heat it over medium heat until the house smells like a Souk.
Take them off and let them cool. Then put them into the mortar and bash them with the pestle until the bay leaves have all but vanished.
For the rest of it, you will need
- Prawns (about a half kilo)
- Coconut milk (a 400 ml tin)
- A couple of glugs of fish sauce
- Flesh of a mango
- 1 small carrot
- 6 spring onions
- 3 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 chili
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A handful of coriander
- Oil for frying
There is a fair bit of chopping involved in this. Chop the mango into cubes about the same size as your prawns.
Chop the carrot into strips about the length of said prawns. Chop the chili, spring onion, garlic and lemongrass up pretty small. Roughly chop the coriander just before adding it. Here’s the best one of the chopping shots:
I used a wok for this. Any pot will do as long as it is big enough. First add some oil to the hot wok. Add the carrots and stir until about half done. Add the chopped garlic, lemongrass and chili. Stir until the aromas hurt your eyes.
Then add the curry. Stir and coat everything with that powder.
Add the fish sauce and coconut milk. Bring this to the boil then add the prawns and mango.
When these are heated through and the mixture is just about boiling, the prawns should be cooked. Don’t over-cook them. They will shrink and turn hard and only be fit to make earrings. Serve it with the rice that you have made without me having to tell you to.
She may not be able to pronounce it but, she appreciated it. She is going off to spend a few weeks in Thailand in a couple of months. When she gets back, I’ll bet she’ll be able to pronounce ‘Vietmanese’, damn, ‘Veatmanese’, damn, damn it, you know what I mean. “Viet na mese”.