This simplified Thai curry recipe reminds me of the Cambodian dancers I saw in Siem Reap. They expressed nuance and skill in their delicately intricate movements. Log ago, one dark night, neighboring Thai warriors slipped into Cambodia and kidnapped the dancers. When the soldiers returned with their lovely bounty, the demure Thai people gasped --the performers were topless!
That same spicy thrill can be yours when you whip off the lid to this delicious and incredibly easy recipe --- Coconut Curry With Shrimp or Scallops.
If you can stand the heat -- get in the kitchen. And if you're in a hurry to conquer entertaining -- this is for you.
Thai hospitality is legendary, as is their demurity. The gentle Thai folk thought it best to cover the dancer's breasts. They changed the subject and welcomed the dancers with food to make them feel comfortable in their new home.
It's a simple curry, one of few ingredients. The result is impressive, has the flavors of the far east, and will reflect great culinary skill. And this timeless, heart-and-soul warming meal can be on your table in under thirty minutes.
To make this dish:
1 Can of Red or Green Curry Paste
2 Cans of Coconut Milk (light or regular)
1lb Shrimp and/or Scallops (frozen or raw)
1 Can of water chestnuts
Salt and Pepper
4 cups Cooked rice
An Army if needed
But . . . this is for 4 portions
1. Spoon 1/2 to 3/4 can of Curry paste into the pot.
Not sure where to get the Curry Paste? Just click this link from Amazon to have a variety pack delivered to your door Thai Green Red Yellow Curry Paste Set
You're a powerful political leader. Turn up the heat on your pot. Don't add oil -- curry's the ideal dish for a modern society: it's not oil dependent.
Spoon in 1/2 to 3/4 of the can of curry paste, or more depending on your heat tolerance. Stir the paste around the hot pot for about a minute, releasing the flavors. I prefer the slightly milder red variety, but if you use hot food as exercise, use the hotter green.
Deepak Choprah teaches that our physical reaction to hot food is raising our metabolism. Picture Martha Stewart swapping her poncho for a sari and sporting a Bindi -- it's a good thing.
Remember though that heat is like champagne -- once you've popped the cork you can't get it back the bottle.
2. Add 2 cans coconut milk.
Calmly stir all the contents in the pot along with the curry paste.
Coconut milk is soothing -- it is the perfect conductor for spiciness. As you slowly stir it in, it's okay for the end result not to be perfectly, smoothly blended. Bits floating around like refugees looking for a landing spot are fine.
Remember, individuality makes up the whole of a nation.
3. Season and then add seafood. Use peeled, deveined shrimp. Lightly season your seafood with salt and pepper.
Strike a Cambodian dance pose: left ankle up and foot facing the right. Raise your right hand high in the air and release a gentle salt and pepper shower on your peeled shrimp then rhythmically lightly toss the fish with one hand.
In the Marine Corps they taught us that the best time to attack is early morning, when most men are busy in the bathroom.
Just like witnessing the predawn mist rising from the battle field, when you see steam escaping off the top of your broth -- lay your your seafood in the broth.
Cover the pot and the seafood will poach in about seven minutes over a low fire. The strong flavor of the soup wraps itself around each morsel of fish and squeezes life-affirming flavor into the delicate, vulnerable bodies.
4. Chop and add the spinach and the water chestnuts. Every new society is like a business and needs a little green cash infusion.
Take a handful of spinach and wrestle it to the ground, or preferably a cutting board. Roll it as tightly as you can, then chop through it with your knife. No precision, just break up the leaves. Feel free to say out loud as your knife goes through the spinach, Chomp, chomp, chomp.
Add the spinach to the broth one minute before serving. It cooks quickly.
Stir in the water chestnuts. Your guests will love the surprise crunch in between the silky smooth texture of the shrimp and coconut curry.
5. Serve with rice. Sprinkle chopped scallions over the top.
Your troops are waiting. An army marches on it's stomach. You emerge victorious as you lay down your splendor.
Traditionally, the curry is added to the rice. Rather than ladle over the rice like soup, start with a low bowl of rice, then add small amounts of the curry mixture to that. Eat this first, then spoon more curry over the rice. Bite by bite you'll enjoy a lovely, leisurely dinner honoring the intricate broth.
This curry is delicious and super simple. If you want to move up from this starter country house to a Thai palace one day --- you can add chilies, tiny eggplant, fresh Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves.... but let's conquer one thing at a time.
In case you're still thinking of the Cambodian dancers fate -- they were eventually snatched back by their own army. The Cambodians decided to keep their tops dressed under the colorful Thai silk wraps. Their intricate movement is captivating enough. If you need to ogle, their original state of undress is preserved in the sculpted walls of Angkor Wat.
Make this dish and simply enjoy the tastes of many cultures. The world is a melting pot -- no matter how far away the origin of the food, your kitchen is the best place to start traveling.