|Tuna Steak with Green Peppercorns|
|Kaeng Liang Peppery Shrimp Soup|
|Filet Steak with Three-Pepper Sauce|
|Maple-Pecan Ice Cream|
|Sea Bass Steamed with Soy Sauce|
|Prawns Baked with Vermicelli|
Crispy-fried Tuna Steak with Green Peppercorns
Cooking time 10 minutes; Serves 2
about 500 g good vegetable oil
plaa insii steak, about 2 cm thick
150 g coconut cream
30 - 50 g green curry paste
20 g or about 20 kaffir lime leaves
20 g krachaai (finger ginger) roots cut into match-stick thin julienne
20 g fresh green peppercorns, on the stems (frozen green peppercorns will do, but dried ones won't)
15 - 20 g or 4-5 red and orange phrik chii faa chilis about 8 cm long, seeded and cut into fourths lengthwise
10 g white soy sauce (si iew khaao; the type with shiitake extract gives a very nice flavor)
Heat the oil in a capacious wok until it is almost smoking. Fry all but 4 - 5 of the kaffir lime leaves briefly until they are crisp but still a handsome dark green. Drain on absorbent paper. Turn the flame up as high as it goes and put the fish into your wok. The oil should spit furiously. Cook about two minutes; you want the outside a deep golden color, and the inside still moist and tender.
Pour off all but about 50 g of oil, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the curry paste to the wok, and stir it quickly into the oil until well aborbed. Add the coconut cream, stirring constantly. The mixture should boil within a minute or two; let it simmer another minute. You should now have a sauce a bit thicker than heavy cream. Add the 4 - 5 reserved kaffir lime leaves, finger galangal, chilis and peppercorns. Swirl twice around the wok and remove from heat. Place the fish on its serving dish, artistically cover all but one end with the sauce, and garnish with the crisp-fried kaffir lime leaves.
With the proportions of chili, curry paste and peppercorns given above this dish may be too spicy for diners who aren't used to Thai food. You can reduce those ingredients by about half without spoiling the dish (much), but there's no point in trying to adapt it to the taste of those who cannot abide chilis. One can eat everything but the unfried kaffir lime leaves, but you should invite your guests to proceed cautiously when it comes to the chilis and peppercorns.
One reason a lot of Asian cooking is so hard to duplicate at home is that no domestic stove has nearly enough heat output; a big domestic burner might get up to 25,000 BTU / hr, against perhaps 200,000 BTU / hr from a high-pressure restaurant burner. A tuna steak is about the biggest thing you can fry properly at home.