Shrimp in Red Curry – Thai Style

I love Thai food.  And there is nothing that I love more in that cuisine that their Red Curry. But, then, I love anything that has coconut, or coconut cream or coconut milk - That is why my signature cake is a coconut cake – but let’s leave that one for another day in another post.

But, simply put, if it has coconut, I’m going to dig in and try it.

When I lived in Miami, I had a favorite Thai restaurant, called appropriately “The Thai House”, it was only a couple of blocks from my apartment in North Bay Village, over the bridge into North Miami Beach.  This place was a bit out of the way; right on the causeway and only the local folks knew it was there.  It did not stop them from having a pack house every night.

While they gave you every staple in a typical Thai menu, their Red Curry was out of this world.  I have tried so many red curries in so many Thai restaurants all over the place and still have not found one that comes close to the one in The Thai House. 

Eventually, I knew that I was going to have to learn to make it at home.

It took me a couple of years to do so and to get it just right.  I of course bought a Thai food cookbook and set to make it as authentic as I could by making the red curry paste from scratch.  While totally satisfying, it was a long process and even living in Miami which many oriental markets at my fingertips, it was very difficult to come close to finding the ingredients to make this totally authentic.

So, of course I ended going the lazy route and bought the curry paste in my local oriental supermarket.  Why make life difficult? And who knew the store bought stuff made the curry dish comes the closest to the original recipe from the restaurant?  It also saves you a ton of time, since putting this recipe together is so simple that you can pretty much have it cooked and served in less than 30 minutes.

Shrimp in Red Curry

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste (usually buy the Thai Kitchen brand also, if you like it more spicy, you can add an additional tablespoon.)
1 can (14 ounces) of Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 pound fresh shrimp, devein and cleaned (you can also use other protein for this – chicken, pork, beef, even duck).
2 cups assorted cut-up* vegetables, such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, sugar snap peas, baby sweet peas and I always love to add cherry tomatoes and bamboo shoots  
2 tablespoons julienne-cut fresh basil (if you can find Thai basil, even better!)

If you are using fresh shrimp, make sure they are cleaned.  I then soak them in salted water for about 15 minutes before cooking.  After 15 minutes, removed them from the salted brine and past them dry, put aside.

In large skillet on medium heat, heat the oil. Add curry paste; stir fry 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until fragrant. Add coconut milk and chicken stock; bring to simmer on medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar and fish sauce until well blended.

Stir in the vegetables of your choice (in this particular recipe, I added red peppers, cherry tomatoes and bamboo shoots just because that is what I had on hand); simmer 5 to 7 minutes (if you are using other proteins, you can add them at this point as well, make sure they are cut in small bite pieces) until the vegetables are cooked through and are tender-crisp. 

At this point add the shrimp and cook for another 5-7 if large shrimps (7 to 8 if jumbo or about 3-4 minutes if medium size) minutes, until the shrimps are pink and lost their glossy appearance.  A quick tip: In cases like this, where I know the shrimp is part of a sauce, I usually under cook them a bit, since the hot sauce will continue to cook them specially if you are serving this (as I like to do) in the sauce pan.  

Remove from heat. Stir in basil and serve over cooked Jasmine Rice, if desired.

*make sure all your vegetables are cut about the same size in order for them to cook evenly.  I tend to julienne them thin - except the sugar snap peas.