In all Thai curries, a good paste made from herbs, spices and other aromatics makes all the difference to the flavour of the finished dish. I always keep a stash of fresh galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass and turmeric, tracked down in Asian supermarkets, in my freezer to make these. You can serve this curry with rice, fruit and/or pickled vegetables. I’ve also served it with steamed garlic shoots, which are delicious, if you’re a garlic grower.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
4 venison shanks
5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 sticks of lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
30g galangal or root ginger, peeled and grated
2 medium green chillies, finely chopped
4 lime leaves
1 tbsp finely grated turmeric root (optional)
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 blades of mace (optional)
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 stick of cassia bark or cinnamon
2 Thai cardamom pods, split, or the seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
1.5 litres beef stock
40 pearl or silverskin onions, peeled
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp tamarind paste
100ml fish sauce
150ml pineapple juice
4 slender spring onions, trimmed but left whole, to garnish (optional)
For the fresh paste
4 lime leaves
2 sticks of lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
20g galangal or root ginger, chopped
50g unsalted peanuts, lightly roasted
1 medium shallot, roughly sliced
Season the venison shanks. Heat 2 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and brown the meat (in batches) all over on a high heat for 4-5 minutes, then remove from the hob.
In a pan large enough to fit all the shanks, heat another 2 tbsp oil and add the lemongrass, garlic, galangal or ginger, chilli, lime leaves, turmeric, if using, and spices. Cook for a few minutes on a low heat.
Add the stock, bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper, then add the venison shanks and simmer for about 1½ hours.
Meanwhile, brown the baby onions in 1 tbsp oil for a few minutes, then add these to the curry as it simmers.
While it’s cooking, blend the ingredients for the fresh paste with 1 tbsp or so of the sauce until smooth.
After the meat has had 1½ hours, add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, fish sauce, pineapple juice and your fresh paste to it, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.
It’s difficult to put a cooking time on this so the shanks will need testing every so often. Once they are tender, the sauce should be thick enough; if not, remove the shanks and simmer the sauce until it’s thickened.
Serve the shanks with the sauce, and with a slim spring onion to garnish, if you like.