There are some (ok, many) days when the thought of cooking dinner for yourself and your loved ones sounds about as appealing and relaxing as running a marathon. Those are the days when you can’t even peel your lazy behind off the couch to brush the crumbs off your shirt and refill your water glass (yeah, that’s water in there – it’s clear ain’t it?), and your only wish is that you are some medieval queen with butlers and cooks and pantlers galore.
Lucky me, I’ve got my own butler in my trusty cellphone, which has a handful of programmed numbers to our favorite takeout joints. The entries that get the most play are our two local Thai restaurants, and the dish around which all dishes are ordered is one of our favorites, red curry with pork. Yummy. I love coconut milk in all its rich, creamy coconutty glory, and if you marry that with the heat of the red curry paste concoction, it’s simply magical.
I recently threw in the towel and purchased a tub of red curry paste from the local Asian grocery store after having shelved some lofty plans of making it myself following this recipe (what can I say, I don’t own a mortar and pestle). I also discovered how ridiculously effortless it is to throw together a red curry meat or veggie dish using this paste. I opted for shrimp as the protein component since it cooks so darn fast (love that), and it helps to have a kickass wok. I used the very short recipe printed on the side of the curry tub as a guideline, but sort of improvised a bit on the quantities since they can be varied to please your own tastebuds.
Of course, I won’t be deleting the Thai restaurants’ numbers anytime soon – after all, I still haven’t attempted Pad Thai at home (the tamarind and shrimp paste wait patiently in my pantry), or any of the loads of other yummy dishes they offer. Besides, I really like my butler.
Thai Red Curry Shrimp
(Adapted from the side of the Aroy-D brand red curry tub)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp red curry paste
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk (I use the Aroy-D brand, but I’m no connoisseur)
1 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tsp sugar
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into srips
1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed if desired
Handful of Thai basil leaves
In a hot wok or deep skillet, saute the red curry paste with the canola oil until fragrant. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. You can add some water to thin the sauce, if you wish. Add the fish sauce, sugar and peppers and cook until peppers are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil leaves until wilted. Serve with hot jasmine rice and an iced tea to cool your tongue.
Note: If you don’t live near an Asian market, here is a recipe that uses regular supermarket ingredients. The red curry paste should be available in the Asian aisle of any reputable market.