Don’t you love it when a seemingly complex dish turns out to be fairly simple?
Me too. That’s one of the reasons I love hor mok, the Thai curry fish custard. With its multiple layers, first of Thai basil and/or cabbage, then succulent chunks of fish, then a complex-tasting curried fish custard, and finally a coconut cream topping garnished with thinly sliced red pepper and kaffir lime leaves, all stacked in a banana leaf fashioned into a bowl and then steamed…. well, it sounds pretty darn complicated to make!
In fact, after deciding I was going to attempt this dish, I set aside an entire afternoon, dedicated solely to hor mok making. But, I was happily surprised that it wasn’t as complicated to make as it sounds. It was actually done in no time at all.
You start by cutting banana leaves into 5-6 inch rounds and then pleating the edges and securing them with toothpicks to form little bowls. This is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it, and was surprisingly satisfying for me… But if you prefer to skip this step, hor mok can be steamed in little ramekin dishes instead.
Then you make the curry fish custard. Although this custard has all of the delicious flavors of a traditional Thai red curry, you don’t even have to master the art of separating the coconut cream into its milk and oil layers! You simply put some red curry paste into a blender along with fresh fish, an egg, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, and some seasonings and blend away. It’s that easy!
And then it’s assembly time. A generous handful of Thai basil leaves are placed on the bottom of the banana leaf bowl. Shredded cabbage can also be added, but I opted for a purely seafood curry dish this time. Fresh chunks of white fish go in next, followed by the curry fish custard. A little thickened coconut cream is dolloped on top, garnishes added, and the whole concoction is steamed for 10-15 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll have a wonderful Thai curry fish custard for dinner.
The other reasons I love hor mok?
It’s super delicious.
And it makes the boyfriend happy, which makes me happy.