Steamed prawn or fish curry mousse

Steamed prawn or fish curry mousse

Ho mok

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South East Asian Food

Ho mok is a very ancient Thai/Khmer dish which reaches a pinnacle of refinement in Thai cuisine through the use both of egg and of coconut milk. Compare this version with the Mok of Laos and the Khmer (Cambodian) amok.

Serve Ho mok as a change instead of a wet coconut milk curry or serve it with rice as a luncheon dish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
banana leaves or small ramekins, for use as containers
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk
1 cup thin or 21⁄2 cups canned coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons Red curry paste II
or 2-3 tablespoons canned red curry paste
500g shelled raw prawns or sliced firm fish
1 duck egg
or 2 small hen eggs
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon palm sugar
2 cups asian sweet basil leaves
a handful large coriander leaves
1 medium-sized red chillies, seeded and sliced diagonally into fine strips

Method

  1. Banana leaf cups are the authentic thing to use here. If banana leaves are available, cut out circles from them using the top of a Chinese rice bowl as a guide. Put two circles together for strength and take in four 1.5 cm tucks about 4 cm deep at equal distance around the outside, pinning the tucks down with a stapler or with toothpicks. Keep the resulting cups aside. If banana leaves are not available use ramekins.
  2. Cut the lime leaves down each side of the spine then slice each half lengthwise into very fine shreds. Keep three-quarters of the shreds aside for garnish. Keep aside also about 1 cup of the thickest coconut milk.
  3. In a deep bowl (an unglazed terracotta pot is considered by Thais to be best) stir about 1 cup of the coconut milk bit by bit into 2 tablespoons curry paste until it is well mixed. Add the prawns or fish and mix well again. Add the unbeaten egg and stir in one direction with a wooden spoon until well mixed.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the fish sauce and the sugar to taste. Then stir in (still in the same direction) however much more curry paste suits your taste. Continue stirring rhythmically, still in one direction, for at least 15 minutes. You can try using an electric beater at slow speed with a single dough hook attached at this stage but be careful as the mixture must not get fluffy nor should the prawns or fish break up.
  5. Cover the bottom of each banana leaf cup or ramekin with basil leaves and pour the mousse mixture on top, leaving room for it to expand slightly. Bring water to the boil in a steamer. Put in the banana cups or ramekins, cover the steamer and steam until nearly cooked (about 15–20 minutes).
  6. Take off the lid, spoon 1 tablespoon of the reserved thick coconut milk on to the top of each cup of mousse in the steamer, replace the lid and steam further until completely cooked. You can tell that this is so when a skewer inserted into the mousse comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the steamer, garnish each cup with a whole coriander leaf topped with a few strands of chilli and lime leaf, and serve.
  8. If you prefer a hotter Ho mok, put in more dried chillies when you make the curry paste
  9. The Lao Mok kai is a related dish wrapped into banana-leaf covered packets and grilled over charcoal.
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