Sunday, July 14, 2013

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I grew up in the Seattle area.  Seafood is part of the backdrop of growing up there.  Shrimp pasta, grilled salmon, fried clams, and crab legs that you crack yourself before dipping the sweet, delectable meat into clarified butter.  Ok, now I'm salivating.

Where I live now, good seafood is hard to come by.  I scrape by on McDonald's Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and bags of frozen white fish originating somewhere in Scandinavia.  But sometimes I
just really crave some good shellfish.  And so, once in awhile, my equally-seafood-loving husband and I will splurge on some frozen prawns.  

These babies are NOT cheap, so if I'm going to make a dish with these shrimp, it had better be good.  It had better do justice my all-time favorite shellfish.

This recipe is worthy.  I found it through Pinterest, at Picture the Recipe, but made a few changes to the method and the ingredients, and the tweaked version is now one of our favorites on the menu rotation. It's an amazing blend of flavors, with just enough kick.  And all the different flavors here are really just an amazing introduction to the main star, the juicy, sweet, succulent shrimp.   

Tastes like home.

The Step-By-Step

Note:  This dish is best served on a bed of rice, so cook your rice first using the method you prefer.  It can wait, in a covered pot, until your curry is done.  The curry won't do as well waiting for the rice to cook.  So start your rice now. (I recommend basmati, but you're the boss, it's your dinner).

Prepare the Shrimp 

First, make sure you have uncooked shrimp.  If they are already pink, they are pre-cooked.  You don't want that.  You want them grayish, like this.  

If necessary, peel and devein the shrimp. Toss in a small bowl with some curry and tumeric.

Prepare the Veggies

Now, get a frying pan heated up with a little olive oil in there.  Then start chopping your veggies.  The bell pepper and the onion are chopped (meaning about the size of your fingernail).

The garlic, ginger and chili pepper need to be minced (about the size of a baby tooth).

Throw all that lovely stuff into your heated oil and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are "limp," as my grandma used to say.

Put it All Together

To the pan of veggies, add the coconut milk, salt, and lime juice.

Throw in some frozen peas.  Stir and simmer a bit.  How much is a bit?  I don't know, let's not get technical about it.

Finally, at the very end, toss in your lovely shrimp.    Let them simmer just a few minutes.  They will turn pink as they cook.  Once they turn pink, just cook them a weensy bit more and they will be done.

Be aware that it's easy to overcook the shrimp!  They will keep cooking a little while in the hot sauce even after you've taken them off the heat.  You'll know you've overcooked them if they are rubbery in texture.  You don't want to do that to your poor shrimp.  They deserve better.

Now get your rice.  Use some kind of little bowl or jar to improvise yourself a fancy mold for your rice. Or your could just put some rice in each dish.  But it's more impressive this way. Don't you want to be impressive?

Spoon some of your lovely curry around each serving of rice.  Top with some chives or green onions and serve immediately.

Take a bite.  Sigh deeply with satisfaction.

The Recipe

Coconut Shrimp Curry


20-30 Jumbo shrimp (tiger prawns are good)
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon tumeric (Ukraine friends: кукурма)

1 chili pepper
1 onion
2 inches of fresh ginger
1 head (about 5 or 6 cloves) of garlic
1 bell pepper (I like red, any color will work)
2 cans (about 3 cups) coconut milk*
Juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas

Chives or green onion to garnish
Cooked rice to serve with the curry

First peel and devein the shrimp, if necessary.  Then stir the curry powder and the tumeric in with the shrimp.  Set aside.

Now chop the bell pepper and onion.  Mince the garlic, chili pepper, and fresh ginger.  Saute in a frying pan in a little olive oil.  

When the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent, add the coconut milk, lime juice and salt to the pan.  Add the frozen peas.  Simmer a few minutes.

Finally, add the shrimp, and simmer until the shrimp turn pink, then simmer about two minutes more. Remove from heat.

Serve over the rice, garnish with green onion or chives.

*Note:  If you can't get coconut milk, I've had success in this recipe using about 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups light cream and a cup of coconut.  Throw it all in a saucepan over very low heat (not bubbling) and let the coconut flavor infuse into the milk/cream for about 20 - 30 minutes.  Then STRAIN OUT the coconut using a sieve or cheesecloth.  The resulting milk/cream will work as a substitute for coconut milk in this recipe.  I haven't tried this in other recipes though, so no promises on that.