Brett McGregor creates a Thai-inspired red curry

In this episode of Taste of a Traveller, Brett heads to Koh Samui, one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands. He starts off by learning how to make a traditional Thai cocktail – with a little help from some highly trained monkeys!

At the exclusive Maleti Beach Resort & Spa, Brett is challenged to a curry cook-off by Ken, the resort’s curry chef. As Brett works on his red curry, Ken makes a green seafood one, and the winner is judged by the resort’s head chef.

“Maleti is a top-notch resort with world-class standards, so I’m not going to underestimate my opponent,” Brett says. “Ken is no slouch when it comes to making a mean curry!”

After adding come baby eggplants to coconut milk and bringing to a gentle simmer, Brett then adds in his seasons; fish sauce and palm sugar. “I want to bring the curry up to a rapid boil before I put the fish in,” Brett explains. “I’m going to cook this tiny piece of fish until it falls apart, that way it adds extra flavour to the curry sauce.”

With the dishes ready, it’s time for both chefs to plate up and offer to the judge. Who wins? Well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out!

Chef curry cook off

Brett then heads home to New Zealand to try a new curry recipe inspired by his time in Koh Samui.

“As we found out in Thailand, a good curry is all about the paste,” he explains. “In this one I’ve got a whole array of ingredients that create a lot of magic. A little bit of sugar, some red chillies that I’ve soaked in water for about 30 minutes so they soften and blend nicely, some coriander and cumin seeds, some kaffir lime leaves, peanuts and shrimp paste. Add in some shallots, garlic, chilli, and lemongrass.”

“Mix all these together, or smash them up in your mortar & pestle, and create as fine a paste as you can manage,” Brett explains. “That is what creates a delicious curry.”

To get things started, Brett uses some beautiful Olivado Peanut Oil, adding it to a medium heat pan. “I’ve always said curries are about burning layers of flavour, and this creates the first one, so a great first step.”

Olivado peanut oil

From there Brett then adds his paste to the peanut oil. “You want to cook your paste nice and slowly, so you can really develop those flavours. What’s going to happen is the paste will suck up the oil, but don’t worry, the longer you cook it the oil will be released again.”

Once the oil starts to come out of the paste again, Brett adds some coconut cream and continues to cook. “I’m going to bring that to a boil,” Brett says, “and if it begins to thicken too much, I’ll thin it out with up to a cup of chicken stock.”

The New Zealand Masterchef winner than adds some plum prawns to the mix. “They’re only going to take a couple of minutes to cook,” Brett says, “and I would rather serve them a little under, so by the time they have the chance to be in the warm curry at the table they’ll cook through perfectly.”

Brett than grates some palm sugar into the dish. “If you like it a little bit sweeter, then add some more. If not, then don’t put it in there, it’s completely up to you.” After adding some shredded kaffir lime zest, Brett gives it a little stir before adding the mussels.

“I’ve pre-cooked these just to save myself a little bit of time, but of course you can throw them straight into a curry if you want to.”

After adding some finely sliced kaffir leaves, Brett then adds 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce for the salty aspect. “Now it’s just a matter of letting it simmer and allowing all those flavours to come together,” he says.

Once plated up, Brett’s Thai-inspired red curry is ready to go, along with a Koh Samui colada!

Red thai curry

If you’d like to try your hand at making this dish, then you’ll need Olivado’s Peanut oil. Check out our range of oils here, or if you’d like to see more of Brett’s Taste of a Traveller series, check out our blog.