When I was in grad school and living in Indiana, I dreamed of visiting big cities where they had … Thai Restaurants. That was my end goal. Not museums, not more nightlife, just Thai Restaurants. Thai Cuisine has such an exquisite mix of flavors – coconut milk, lime, cilantro, ginger, and those unique items like Thai Basil, Lemongrass and Kefir Lime leaves. When I moved to D.C., I was so excited that one of the best Thai restaurants was located only a block from my office; many a goodbye party was held at Thaiphoon!
Sadly Minnesota (neither the Twin Cities nor Northfield) were able to fulfill my needs. I decided to try my own hand at it. What a delightful surprise! Making a red or green Thai curry at home was really much simpler than I expected! Of course you need some of those exquisite and authentic ingredients to come close to the restaurant experience, but not all of them, and you can create a pretty amazing meal that will wow your family and friends!
Making a Thai curry is fairly easy thanks to the Thai Kitchen brand of coconut milk and curry pastes. And if you can find them, buy kefir lime leaves, there are no substitutes for the essence they impart and you can freeze them indefinitely. I rarely include lemongrass, but if you can find fresh stalks, then use it. I add other vegetables to bulk up the curry, like slices of carrots or asparagus, whatever is in the refrigerator. Just make sure pieces are evenly cut so they cook at the same rate.
Red Curry Thai Shrimp
1 onion, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon oil (coconut, peanut, safflower)
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 can coconut milk (mix to combine thinner liquid and “cream”)
2 cups stock or water (chicken or veggie stock is best)
2-3 kefir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, bulb end smashed (Optional)
½ red pepper, sliced lengthwise
3-4 stalks asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
2-3 hot green chilies, sliced on the diagonal, deseed for less heat (Optional)
3-5 shrimp per person, peeled, deveined
Handful of chopped cilantro to garnish
Cook rice while preparing curry. Sauté the onion in the oil for 2 minutes. Add curry paste and stir to coat onions and cook another 3 minutes until onions are softened. Add coconut milk, stock or water, chilies, lime leaves and lemongrass if using and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and add thick vegetables like carrots or broccoli now and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add red pepper and other soft vegetables like asparagus or corn or peas and cook another 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink (2-3 minutes). Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice. Flavor improves with age but also gets spicier as it sits.
Love and hugs!