Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

by Ginny on November 10, 2011

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A few weeks ago I sat down at the dinner table  with some dear friends visiting from Alaska, in front of a couple of homemade pizzas.

“This is the first time since we got here that we’ve actually been able to sit at the table together,” Dustin remarked. It was their third or fourth night here, and the first instance where we were able to congregate over a home-cooked meal. Why? Because they have a 3 and a 5 year old, and we have James.

“Nobody tells you when you’re pregnant that you will never eat hot food again,” I said. “It’s inevitable. The minute you lift the fork to your mouth the baby is immediately hungry, wet, and tired.”

Dustin and Keegan laughed the knowing laugh of veteran parents.

“Just wait until he starts crawling,” said Keegan.

“Isn’t it crazy,” Dustin teased, “that after all those years of training,  learning to time everything just right so that all the food is hot and ready at the same time, now it just sits there getting cold.”

It was so true I had to laugh.  I remembered that meal with our Alaska friends again last night, as I sat in my office-come-nursery next to James. While he wiggled and kicked in his crib, I forked down a plate of cold scallops with quinoa, garlic kale, and a balsamic soy reduction. I came up with that dinner idea trying to use up a bag of frozen scallops before they outlived their expiration date. With all four burners hot and bubbling, and a baby that needed out of his bouncer right now, I thought to myself, why am I trying to pull off a meal like this? This is no time for seared scallops! This is time for the stock pot, the crock pot, the ever-ready, re-warmable ONE POT meal. Recipes I can easily step away from while cooking. Recipes that improve as they sit and wait to be eaten.

Wise parents had told me that although I would be greatly inconvenienced by having a child, I wouldn’t mind. I didn’t believe them at the time, but they were right. I can’t explain it, but it feels good to adapt. Big change brings big opportunity for personal expansion and growth. Once I got over the dissapointment of cold scallops, I decided that dinners around here have a new set of parameters. I think it’s time to wave goodbye to multi-course meals and a la minute preparations– at least for now. Those days will come again, but things have changed around here, and until James can hold his own, this is my new m.o.

SDR readers, you can expect to see more low-fuss cooking around here; recipes that are low on labor, high on flavor. And just as welcome at the Sunday table as they are at the Tuesday table. Sometimes the best way to eat well, is to simplify, and the beauty of a meal that comes together on one or two burners (as opposed to four) is that we can be more attentive to what we’re making, and give our focus to creating one good dish.

This tried and true  Thai Red Curry has become a staple around here. It’s the first meal I made when I returned to the kitchen after James was born. I hope you enjoy this warming bowl as much as we do.

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Recipe : Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

 This recipe may sound involved at first glance, but in this house, Thai Red Curry has become a quick-cooking staple both for weeknight dinners or weekend feasts. Once you taste it, I hope you’ll add it to your regular repertoire too. Feel free to substitute chicken or tofu for the shrimp. Most of the ingredients or substitutions should be easy to find, but I’ve linked to the SDR store in case you’re determined to find the authentic stuff. I’ve used both, many times over, and it’s always great.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon canola or other flavorless oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced small
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 and 1/2cans  [14 oz.] coconut milk (NOT lite) (see tip below*)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons red curry paste– the more the spicier (I like Mae Ploy brand)
  • 2 Kaffir lime leaves, julienned or substitute 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 0r 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar or substitute 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste (some brands are saltier than others)
  • pinch white pepper
  • 1 pound raw tiger shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 2 cups jasmine or basmati rice, prepared according to package instructions
  • fresh chopped cilantro, green onion, and lime wedges, for garnish

1. First, get the rice cooking (see tip below*). Next, gather your ingredients and chop all the veggies. In a large (5-quart) soup pot or dutch oven heat oil over medium high heat until hot and shimmery. Add shallot and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced potato and sliced carrots and saute about 5 minutes. You may wish to occasionally add about a tablespoon of water to deglaze bottom of pan, and  help steam the vegetables. Add red bell pepper and continue cooking 3 to 5 more minutes or until vegetables are just becoming tender.

2. Stir in coconut milk, curry paste, lime leaves or zest, palm or brown sugar, fish sauce, and white pepper. Bring to simmer and cook 3 minutes, stirring to dissolve the curry paste into the coconut milk. Add shrimp and frozen peas, and return to a simmer for 3 to 5 more minutes or until shrimp are cooked through.

3. Remove from heat, and stir in lime juice, to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings with extra curry paste, fish sauce, or lime juice. Serve over rice with lime wedges, and garnish with cilantro and green onion. 

Serves 4 to 6

 TIP: Wondering what to do with that extra 1/2 can of coconut milk? Why not make Coconut Rice? Use the remaining coconut milk as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. Simply substitute for an equal amount of water and cook as usual.

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