Helen Brierty and Annette Fear are passionate about Thai food, which has fans flocking to their Spirit House cooking school in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Here they share a favourite curry recipe from their new book “Essentially Thai”.


Serves 4-8

Curry sauce

  • 2 cups (500ml) coconut cream
  • 1 tblspn light palm sugar
  • 2 tblspns fish sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 tblspns red curry paste


  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 16 large green prawns, peeled,
  • de-veined, heads and tails removed
  • 2 cups Kent pumpkin, peeled, cut into
  • 5cm pieces, lightly steamed
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • Curry sauce
  • ½ large red chilli, de-seeded, cut into fine shreds
  • handful of coriander leaves for garnish


To make curry sauce:

Open the coconut cream without shaking it and remove thick cream from the top. Reserve cream for garnish. Combine the palm sugar and fish sauce in a bowl, stir to dissolve palm sugar, add the eggs, curry paste and coconut cream.

To make curry:

Line a medium steamer basket with banana leaves or baking paper. Layer over the basil leaves, then the prawns and pumpkin. Sprinkle over half the shredded kaffir lime leaves and then the curry sauce. Place basket over a wok filled with boiling water.

Cover and steam over a moderate heat for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and place basket on a serving plate. Swirl over reserved coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves, chilli strips and coriander leaves.

Chef’s tip:

You could also use a mix of seafood, or omit the pumpkin altogether. Like so many recipes, this is about the technique. If you don’t have banana leaves on hand or baking paper an alternative is just to steam the dish in a glass or porcelain bowl.

It could also be divided between small bowls and served as an entree or starter. The steaming time will vary slightly depending on the size of

the basket or bowl.