I had no idea what to call this dish. On one hand it had all the components of a Thai curry, then again it had some spices prevalent in Indian cooking. Plus it had butter and onions, two things not typical of that part of the world so I couldn't even claim a Spice Route connection. But it worked. Boy did it work....
This is what happens with age and experience. After years of cooking and reading about different foods and their origins, you know instinctively what will work in spite of the fact that you may be coloring outside the lines. With time, your taste buds develop and you begin to feel more comfortable experimenting and coming up with new ideas. That's what's fun about cooking. Doing your own thing and watching it succeed. Let's face it, you are not cooking for the Food Channel and no one is going to report you to the Thai police, so go with your gut.
Shrimp cooked like this is perfect for a quick midweek meal. In less than 20 minutes you can have dinner on the table. That is why Thai food is such a favorite of mine, especially during the week. It is interesting, a bit out of the ordinary, yet easy and quick. It can even impress if served for a casual dinner party of six. Cook some white rice, preferably Jasmine, and a salad and you have got yourself a winner. If you want to be a maverick, serve some bread to mop up the sauce. Something lemony for dessert would be divine. I like citrusy desserts after Thai or Indian food. They cleanse the palate after a spicy meal and they are light in character. Just the perfect ending.
This is the time of the year when we should be eating something exotic and different. Anything to break the starch marathons our holidays are famous for. There are only a few weeks between the heaviest two meals of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My stomach is bursting just thinking about it. Take it easy, relax and prepare. Starting next week, it's all about Christmas. In the meantime, think Thai and think light.
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
3 TB butter
4 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1/2 tsp coriander powder or more if using seeds
1.2 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1 TB red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
1 TB fish sauce
1. In a skillet melt 2 TB. butter and add 3 garlic cloves, mashed, and 1/2 tsp. mustard seed. Cook at medium high for a couple of minutes. Add the shrimp. Sautee until the shrimp is pink. Remove to a plate.
2. Add a little more butter to pan and sautee onions, red pepper, garlic, coriander, cardamon, cinnamon, cilantro and 1 TB red curry paste. If you want it hotter, add some more.
3. Add one can of coconut milk and cook on medium for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Add shrimp back, 1 or 2 TB fish sauce and cook for another 5 minutes for shrimp to absorb sauce. Add fresh chopped cilantro. And you are done!
All photos Lindaraxa