Thai Chilli Garlic Prawns – Tortellini with Pork Belly, Ginger, Coconut & Lime
Thailand meets Italy in this delicate, elegant dish, filled with beautiful Thai flavours. Thai Chilli, Garlic & Prawns fill these tortellini and the sauce is made with coconut, lime and shallots.
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According to YouGov, the most popular cuisine in the world is Italian. Fourth on that list, behind Chinese and Japanese, is Thai.
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone.
Certainly, Italian food is beloved in countries all over the globe. And even in those in which the best of Italian cuisine is not at its most prevalent, dishes like pizza and pasta defy all the boundaries.
And although coming in at fourth place may not sound like quite so great an accolade, Thai cuisine beats out some very strong contenders.
Lower on the list are some real heavy hitters. French, American and Mexican all score lower than Italian or Thai. Even my beloved Indian cuisine comes in some way behind the others.
About the dish
So, if Italian and Thai cuisine are two of the world’s most popular, what could be better than a combination of the two?
In this recipe, we will be taking all of those beautiful Thai flavours and ingredients and adding them to one of Thailand’s. Stuffing all of those amazing Thai ingredients tightly into a perfect little tortellini.
Naturally, the tortellini goes very well with Thai flavours, because it fills a role that might normally be fulfilled by noodles. And I don’t think anyone would argue that noodles and pasta don’t have a thing or two in common.
We will also be making a sauce by reducing down coconut milk with a few aromatic Thai ingredients. Then we’ll be throwing in some mushrooms, ginger, shallots, a little more garlic and some pork belly.
We’ll thicken that sauce until it has the consistency of something a little more Italian. So that it’s just enough to coat the pork belly, cut into lardons, and mushrooms.
I’m not saying that’s an Italian sauce. It isn’t. But it has a certain Italian feel and presentation to it that takes us a little closer to that halfway point.
A Quick Guide | Thai Chilli Garlic Prawns – Tortellini with Ginger, Coconut & Lime
I’m just going to quickly run you through the process for making the dish. This section assumes the pasta and the herb oil are already made; I’ll cover how to make pasta and how to make herb oil in the next two sections.
We’ll begin by reducing our coconut milk down with some lemongrass and some kaffir lime. You can also throw in some galangal if you have any available.
You only want to reduce it down about 1/3 to 1/2. We’ll be using a tiny splash for the filling and we want enough to coat the main ingredients and still provide a little moisture.
Once it’s finished reducing, a splash of lime juice, a little palm sugar (or caster sugar) and either some salt or fish sauce will help to balance all of the flavours.
While it reduces, we’ll make the filling for the tortellini.
This is nice and simple and basically involves mincing the prawns and frying them off with some garlic and ginger, then throwing in some chilli right at the end. Then we’ll add a splash of the coconut milk, any extra seasoning we might need and we’ll cool it right down in the fridge.
At this stage, I find it useful to prep all the ingredients we’re going to cook with. Chop up a little more garlic, slice up the pork belly and the mushrooms, finely dice a shallot and if needs be, finely chop some ginger. I used a pre-bought paste, which I find works a little better.
It’s also helpful to slice up another mushroom or two to use as raw garnish.
Once the filling is cool, we’ll take the pasta from the fridge and roll it out into very thin strips, then we’ll cut it into circles and add our filling.
Once the filling is in place, brush water around the rim and fold them together, then, with the front of your thumb pressed against the filling and the rimmed edge facing directly away from your thumb, wrap the two ends around your thumb and draw them tightly together. Brush the seam with a little more water and seal.
Now we cook!
This is the quick part.
We’ll start by colouring the pork belly all over lightly, then adding our mushrooms and cooking them down with it. The shallots, some more garlic and the ginger can also go in at this stage to cook down for just a couple of minutes before adding the coconut milk, strained of its previous contents, and reducing until suitably thick.
While it reduces, we’ll simmer the tortellini for a few minutes, to cook the pasta through and to bring the contents back to temperature.
Then we’ll plate up by dishing up a little bit of the sauce and a generous helping of the ingredients within, followed by the tortellini, the herb oil, some fresh coriander and the thinly sliced raw mushroom.
And there we have it! Tortellini filled with chilli, garlic and prawns, a delicious pork belly and coconut sauce, and some tasty, fresh garnish to go on top.
How to make pasta
People often wonder how to make pasta. It’s actually one of my favourite things to make. It’s also a lot easier than people expect. All it really requires is a little patience.
Gluten is not our friend when it comes to pasta, at least not in huge, huge quantities. We do need to work the gluten a little, but we’ll be using plan flour for this part to help balance things out.
Self-raising is also not an option. Pasta is all about thin, delicate strands of beautiful, light bite. Self-raising flour simply won’t hold the level of thinness we need.
Effectively, it’s as simple as combining the flour (g) and eggs at a 100:1 ratio, so 100 grams of flour for every egg. I also find about 100g sufficient for one person, at least in a recipe like this one. You could use a little less, but you’ll have an easier time working with too much than too little.
Throw a little salt into the mix as well and combine. You’ll start with a very rough dough, but it will become smoother and more elastic as you knead it.
Keep going until the dough feels nice and smooth. If you really don’t feel like it’s going to get there, a tiny splash of water will help. But patience is the most important thing!
Once it’s ready, pop it in the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm, for at least half an hour. This gives the gluten time to rest, which will allow us to roll it out nice and thin shortly.
How to make herb oil | Herb Oil Recipe
Herb oil is one of those cool things you see on plates of food in restaurants and you never quite how they’ve done it. It also brings a lot of extra flavour and genuinely does look beautiful.
And despite the apparent complexity of most recipes online, it’s also really, really easy to make. That’s why I’m including the whole herb oil recipe in this how to make herb oil section.
You basically have to add 100g coriander to a boiling pan for just 30 seconds, then plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking process. This helps it retain its colour.
Then you blend it in oil, allow it to sit for a while, strain it out and boom! You’re there.
And that’s how to make herb oil!
A few final things to remember
- Roll the pasta really nice and thin. A pasta roller will help a lot here. I couldn’t use mine this time, so the pasta was a little thicker than I’d have liked.
- If you find the raw mushrooms a little strange, omit them. They’re far from vital, but they do bring a little something extra to the dish. And while they’re not unique, they are novel.
- On the note of mushrooms, I’ve used chestnut, because the pandemic has cut off my access to the more exotic ingredients. If you’re reading this in a COVID-free future, firstly, congratulations, it must be lovely, and secondly, sourcing some slightly more authentically Asian mushrooms might be a fun and worthwhile thing to do.
- As you might expect, the herb oil can be made with any combination of soft herbs. This combination is especially appropriate for this dish, but you could drop one or the other or even make one with, say, parsley if it suited your needs elsewhere.
Similar Recipes & Useful Sides
Delicious Thai Yellow Curry – A fantastic curry that takes the fresh, vibrant flavours of Thailand and adds to them the complex flavours of dry spices and earthy turmeric.
Authentic Thai Green Curry – Need I say more? The classic Thai dish that we all know and love. A perfect, vibrant curry with beautiful green chillies and fresh herbs.
Thai Chicken Massaman Curry – An amazing Mughal dish that perfectly merges Thailand’s incredible, fresh, beautiful flavours with the most decadent richness and spiciness of India at its most indulgent.
Thai Chilli & Garlic Prawns – Tortellini with Ginger, Coconut & Lime
- Pasta Maker (Optional)
- Ring Mould (Optional)
- 200-250 g Fresh Prawns
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 tsp Ginger Paste
- 1 – 2 Thai Chillies or any chillies will do
- 150 g Mushrooms
- 500 g Pork Belly
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 tsp Ginger Paste
- 1 Shallot
- 1 can Coconut Milk
- 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 1 Stick Lemongrass
- 2 inches Galangal optional
- Lime Juice
- Palm Sugar or caster
- Fish Sauce optional
- 200 g Plain Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 50 g Coriander roughly
- 50 g Basil roughly
- 1/2 cup Oil
- Set aside a few coriander leaves for garnish, then roughly strip the stems from the basil.
- Add all the leaves to a simmering pan for just 30 seconds, then take them out and plunge them into iced water.
- Next, add them to 2/3 cup of any neutral oil, then blend them thoroughly and allow them to sit for a further 30 minutes before straining the debris through a cloth and keeping the oil.
- Mix together 200g flour, 2 eggs and a good dash of salt.
- Work the ingredients together, forming a firm, solid dough. It will be a little rough around the edges to begin with, so knead it until it all comes together and smooths out. You shouldn’t need any water for this part, but a tiny splash won’t do too much harm if necessary.
- Let the dough rest for at least half an hour in the fridge.
- Reduce the coconut milk on a low heat by about a third, with a stick of lemongrass, a couple of kaffir lime leaves and some optional galangal.
- Add a splash of lime juice, a tsp or two of palm sugar (or more, if preferred) and some fish sauce, to taste. You can replace the palm sugar with caster and the fish sauce with salt if preferred.
- Mince the prawns and set them aside while you fry 2 finely diced cloves garlic in an oiled pan on medium heat.
- Cook the garlic for a minute or two, then add the prawns and stir fry until almost cooked.
- Add the ginger and cook through for a further minute or so, then the chillies and stir them in. Season with salt.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a splash of the reduced coconut milk, then pour the contents into a small container and cool it right down in the fridge.
- Once the filling is cool, take the pasta dough from the fridge and roll it out either with a pasta maker or a rolling pin, keeping the surface on which you’re working lightly dusted with flour as you go. You’ll probably want to cut the dough in half before doing so to make it a little easier.
- Once the dough is super thin, cut 8 large rings (about 6 – 8cm each) out and fill each with the cold, cooked prawn mixture.
- Brush the lip with water and fold over to seal, pressing out as much air as you can.
- Placing your inner thumb against the back side of the filling in the tortellini, wrap the edges together around your thumb, drawing the lip tight against the tortellini, then seal the edges together with water.
- Finely slice a couple of the mushrooms to be used as garnish. Slice the rest into slightly thicker pieces.
- Peel and finely dice the shallot.
- In a medium-hot, oiled pan, brown the pork belly, adding the chopped mushrooms and shallots after a minute or two.
- Add the remaining garlic and ginger, then continue to fry until all are cooked.
- Strain the aromatics from the coconut milk and pour it over the pork belly, stirring everything together, seasoning if necessary and reducing further if required. The pork is fatty enough that it should not dry out, but you don’t want to toughen it up.
- While that cooks, drop the tortellini into a hot, boiling pan and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and the ingredients safely brought back up to heat.
- Plate up, first the sauce, then the tortellini, then the herb oil and finally a few coriander leaves and the sliced, raw mushroom.
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