My husband doesn’t like curry. …Or at least he SAYS he doesn’t like curry. He claims it makes him belchy. (Since when did that deter him, I ask…) This is one of my eternal frustrations because I do like it. A lot. It goes both ways. My husband adores angel hair pasta cooked past al dente served with piles and piles of meat sauce. I say this is sloppy joes on pretend pasta. Ah, love; it’s not all wine and roses. Sometimes it’s burps and mushy noodles. The important thing is that we both recognize that we don’t have to have the last word.
I question how much my husband actually dislikes curry, though, because over the years I have featured at least four recipes in our regular rotation that lean heavily on curry whether in powder or paste form. One of them is one of the most popular posts ever here on Foodie With Family. Another is one of our family favourites and a prize winner. I think it’s more accurate to say that he’s picky about curry. I don’t blame him. In my opinion, the balance of curry is easy to mess up. It can go from complex and tantalizing to muddy and overwhelming if too heavy a hand is used.
I have realized after years of experimentation, that the one kind of curry my husband will invariably love is a Thai curry, specifically a red curry. Red curry is a blend of lemongrass, garlic, Thai ginger and red chiles (among other things). How could you possibly go wrong with that? When RiceSelect sent me a jar of their Texmati light brown rice*, I knew right away what I was going to do with it. It was getting a red curry topping.
*What I love about this rice is that it cooks quickly like white rice and tastes a great deal like it, but gives you much of the nutritional content of brown rice. As a mom of many, I call that a win.
Because the curry we were making was a Thai curry, we decided to turn our dinner into a party to explore Thai culture along with our meal. In Thailand it’s considered unlucky to eat alone*, so we loaded our table up with friends and family. This is an easy task given that our family makes seven per meal all by itself. Since our dinner party was on Sunday, we all wore red; the traditional colour assigned to Sunday in Thai culture.
*Well, gee. I must be the luckiest woman alive, then. I almost never eat alone. (Unless you count me hiding in the bathroom to inhale a chocolate bar.)
In keeping with the Thai theme, we used bamboo mats on red place mats to decorate the table. My son Ty declared it to be his day. Thai. Ty. Oh my. This same child also selected a knots and rope-work class based on the fact that he should be great at it since his name is Ty. Ty. Tie. Help.
Back to the good stuff…
The curry we had was a Thai Red Curry Shrimp: a dish that appears far too simple to have the complex and comforting flavour that it delivers. Coconut milk and red curry paste simmer with onions, peas and shrimp and are ladled over fragrant coconut rice. A simple scattering of chopped fresh cilantro and basil over the top of the dish seems insignificant until you taste it. The fresh herbs, sweet shrimp, and umami laden curry coconut sauce with vegetables all come together in a symphony of flavour, including all four of the main seasonings of Thai cuisine: salty, sour, bitter, and sweet.
Because the curry itself comes together in very little time, the recipe I’m including here calls for making a larger amount of rice than you’ll need for the meal. Coconut rice freezes and reheats beautifully, so the recipe includes instructions for freezing the extra rice for last minute cravings and nights when you’re on the run. Do take advantage of this!
Coconut rice is a beautiful base for stir-fries, sweet and sour meatballs, hamballs. Coconut rice also adds a little unexpected flair to fried rice; simply use your hands to break up the frozen rice directly into the hot pan.
Give this super-fast, exotic, satisfying meal a whirl some evening. You’ll be so glad you did. It’s way better than mushy angel hair with sloppy joe topping.
Oh shoot. Did I just get the last word?
- 5 cups Texmati Light Brown Rice
- 3 cans full-fat Coconut Milk
- additional water
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 medium cooking onion
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk (13-14 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar or light brown sugar
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup water
- 1 pound raw, shelled, cleaned shrimp
- Chopped fresh basil and cilantro for garnish
- Optional: 1 teaspoon lemongrass paste (available in the produce section at grocery stores.)
- Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a rice cooker, select regular rice cycle (no need to cook on the brown rice cycle) and begin the cycle. When finished, fluff with a fork and serve.
- (If you do not have a rice cooker, combine all ingredients in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring once, then cover with a tight fitting lid or foil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, undisturbed, for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or rinse the pan with water and shake off excess. This will keep the rice from sticking. Spread the rice out on the pan and let stand until it is no longer steaming hot. Rinse a measuring cup with water and shake out the excess. Measure meal-sized portions into re-sealable zipper top bags. Use your hands to gently flatten the rice and distribute it evenly in the bag. Seal the bags, label and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Transfer the frozen rice to a microwave safe container and microwave on high in 1 minute bursts, until the rice is hot all the way through. Fluff with a fork before serving.
- Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions to the pan and saute, stirring or tossing occasionally, until the onions have a touch of brown to them.
- Add the coconut milk and red curry paste to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking to combine the red curry paste into the coconut milk. Lower the heat and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, sugar and water and return it to a boil. Again, lower the heat and let it simmer for 8 minutes. Add the optional lemongrass paste (if using) and whisk it in carefully.
- Add the frozen peas and cook until the peas are hot all the way through, about 2 minutes. Bring the liquid back to a gentle simmer and add the cleaned, shelled shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp are curled and pink. This should take between 3 to 5 minutes.
- Scoop a serving of coconut rice into each bowl and spoon the shrimp with the sauce and vegetables over the rice. Scatter some chopped cilantro and basil over the top and serve immediately.