Remember camping trip dinners of canned beans, sandy vegetables and ash-covered toast? Or maybe a warped Trangia set, burnt rice and a watery curry?
Life in the wild doesn’t have to be like that. As easy as it can be the epicentre of culinary catastrophes, your campground kitchen can be a place of gastronomic dreams. Just ask Griff Pamment.
The executive chef at Sydney restaurant Longrain was once like us. “When I grew up we had a gas camp stove and one pot [to go camping with],” he says. “We’d eat baked beans.” Pamment still doesn’t mind the odd can, but now he’s also cooking campground curries, laksas, risottos and steak.
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One dish he likes to make while camping is a Thai red-curry soup. “I made [this recently] while camping down at Jervis bay,” Pamment says. “It’s a little like a curry, a little like a laksa and dead easy. The beauty of this type of recipe is the ingredients are easily transported. It’s also a one-pot wonder so don’t get too hung up on getting the recipe exact. Use it as a guide and make it your own.”
Griff Pamment’s Thai Red-Curry Soup
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 pumpkin wedges
100g red curry paste (ready made is fine)
2 kaffir lime leaves
Small handful of dried shrimp
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sugar
Splash of fish sauce
A few dried mushrooms reconstituted in water
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Fistful of dried rice noodles
60ml coconut cream
Coriander, Thai basil or both
Add salt and oil to wedges of pumpkin. Either wrap each piece of pumpkin in foil and place them in the embers of the fire, or grill them on a hotplate until charred.
In a pot over the medium fire or stove, cook curry paste in oil for a few minutes or until aromatic. Bruise the kaffir lime leaves in your hands and throw them into the pot along with the sugar, dried shrimp, chilli and fish sauce. Add the water.
Once broth is simmering, add mushrooms. When the mushrooms have softened, add pumpkin and cook until semi-soft. Add rice noodles and cherry tomatoes. When noodles are soft, pour in coconut cream.
Taste the broth and add in sugar or fish sauce for sweeter or saltier flavours. Finish with a squeeze of lime and handful of herbs.