Turmeric and coconut clam curry

Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Turmeric and coconut clam curry
(Christina House / For The Times )

Roasted shrimp paste


Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Spread a very thin layer of the paste onto a banana leaf or sheet of aluminum foil and roast until the paste is crisp and hardened, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool, then crush before using.


Alternatively, toast the paste in a dry nonstick skillet. Spread the shrimp paste over the base of a good-quality nonstick skillet. Heat the paste over medium-low heat, scraping and stirring the paste occasionally using a firm heatproof rubber spatula. Continue to heat the paste until it is dry and crumbly, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool, then crush to a powder before using.

Curry paste


Place the dried chiles in a large bowl. Weight the chiles down and cover with warm water. Soak the chiles until they are softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the chiles and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the Thai chiles, shallots, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and roasted shrimp paste. Puree the ingredients to form a smooth, uniform paste. If the mixture is too dry, add water as needed to help puree the paste. This makes about 2 cups of paste, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.


In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and cream to a boil. Stir in the curry paste and cook until the broth is aromatic and no longer tastes raw, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the broth with oyster sauce, fish sauce, tamarind and sugar.


Add the clams and cook on a low simmer until the clams are almost cooked, about 1 minute. Stir in the basil and continue to simmer until the clams are cooked and their shells are opened (discard any clams whose shells do not open).


Taste and adjust the seasonings and flavorings if desired. Plate the curry, garnishing with the sea beans, basil flowers and thinly sliced chiles. Serve alongside steamed jasmine rice.

Adapted from E.P. & L.P. executive chef Louis Tikaram. While the recipe calls for clams, a variety of squid, scallops, mussels or other fish can be substituted. Prepared yellow curry paste can be substituted for the homemade if desired. Shrimp paste, galangal, fresh turmeric, tamarind paste, palm sugar, Thai basil and sea beans can be found at select Asian markets.

Jenn Harris is a senior writer for the Food section and is also the fried chicken queen of L.A. She has a BA in literary journalism from UCI and an MA in journalism from USC. Follow her @Jenn_Harris_.
Get our new Cooking newsletter, coming soon.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.