IF, like me, you try to keep a close eye on the comings and goings in Edinburgh's dining out scene, you can hardly have failed to notice the relentless increase in Thai restaurants over the past few years. ... It shouldn't be surprising really. Thai cuisine's signature ingredients of chillies, lemongrass, coriander and lime combine to create fragrant, spicy and aromatic dishes that were always going to go down well in a country such as Scotland, with a renowned sweet tooth and a famed love of hot curries.
Thai chicken broth (makes 4)
• 2 chicken breasts, 200-250g each, sliced thinly • 1 litre chicken stock • 50g green beans, topped, tailed and halved • 50g peas • 1 leek, topped, tailed, washed and chopped • 1 red pepper, sliced • 1 green pepper, sliced • 2 tsp chopped root ginger • 30g fresh coriander, chopped • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped • 1 stalk lemongrass, topped, tailed and chopped • 2 bay leaves • Juice from 1 lime • 2 tbsp tomato puree • 1 tbsp Thai red curry sauce • Salt and black pepper
Bring the stock to the boil with the lemongrass, ginger, bay leaves, tomato puree and Thai red curry sauce and simmer for ten minutes then strain and discard the strainings. Return the liquid to the pot and add the peppers, leek, chilli, coriander and chicken.
Simmer for five minutes then add the green beans. Simmer for a further five minutes and add the peas and the lime juice. Take off the heat and cover for five minutes then season with salt and pepper and serve.
Deep-fried Thai fishcakes with peanut sauce (makes 4 as a starter)
• 500g fresh whitefish meat such as cod, coley, whiting or hake, patted dry • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped • A bunch of spring onions, washed and chopped • 3 cloves garlic, crushed • 1 stalk lemongrass, topped, tailed, and chopped • 30g fresh coriander • 1 tsp lime juice • 1 egg • Salt and black pepper • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Place the lemongrass in a pot with 50ml water and boil until almost dry then strain. Set aside the blanched lemongrass. Blend the peanut sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth and set aside. Wash the food processor bowl. Place the fish, blanched lemongrass, chilli, garlic, spring onion, coriander, lime juice and egg in the food processor, season lightly with salt and pepper then blend until smooth. Remove and refrigerate for one to two hours.
Warm the vegetable oil carefully in a pan or a deep-frier. Shape the fish mix into small discs and deep fry for one to two minutes until golden brown. Dry on kitchen paper and serve with the peanut sauce and salad leaves.