A Really Good Birthday Shrimp Curry

Usually there is only one thing on the menu for my wife’s birthday. I have a standing obligation to cook shrimp. Usually the dish is fuelled by the holy trio of garlic, butter, and cream, and combined with pasta and cheese. Normally this is not a problem, but you can get too much of a good thing…really… (just ask my waistline!) So this year as the day approached, I pondered how can I change it up? How can I get her to want something different and have it be her idea? Now anyone married for any length of time knows the difficulty of this task. The first thing I needed to do was to convince her to attempt a diet. Suicide? Secondly I planned in the weeks leading up to the specified day to cook a lot of pasta dishes in order for her to want something different. To compel her to need a change. Pathetic! In the end all it took was to give her a choice. I told her that I could cook the same tired boring dish that I usually cooked OR we could try a really nice, Thai inspired shrimp curry. As you can tell by the title, you know what the final outcome was.

What you need:

  • Half a kilo of the biggest shrimp or prawns you can afford. (pre, or un-cooked, shelled or not as you prefer or can get)
  • Half a kilo of jasmine rice (or basmati.)
  • Half a litre of coconut milk.
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1Tbsp red chilli paste (add more or less depending on your desired heat level)
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic.
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds.
  • 2″ piece of ginger grated.
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves (if you can find it)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
  • 3 small/baby sweet red peppers halved. Or 1 large red bell pepper julienned.
  • 1 baby eggplant very thinly sliced (i.e. 1/8″ or 2mm)
  • 4 green onions, chopped into 1″ segments
  • 1 bunch of baby chard roughly chopped.
  • 1 bunch cilantro roughly chopped
  • 4 limes.
  • Zest of the limes.
  • 1 cup salted cashews.
  • 2 Tbsp coarse salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cooking oil as needed.

How it’s done:

  • Cook the rice with your preferred method.
  • Place the eggplant in a bowl with 1tbsp of coarse salt and the juice of two limes. Let it sit for 5 min.
  • In a saute pan heat a little cooking oil over medium heat.
  • Add chilli paste, garlic, coriander, ginger, lime leaves, and lemon grass.
  • Cook for a few minutes until the spices start to give a nice aroma.
  • Add the red pepper, chard, sugar and cashews. Give it a quick stir.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and bring it to a boil.
  • Rinse the eggplant with water and then add it to the curry.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 min.
  • Depending on if you have fresh or pre-cooked shrimp you will need to add them to the curry at the appropriate time so as to not overcook. I had pre-cooked so I added them about 5 min before being finished.
  • While the curry is simmering mix the lime zest, cilantro and salt and reserve.
  • When you are ready to serve, remove from the heat and add the cilantro mixture.
  • Taste and adjust salt/heat levels to your taste.
  • Serve over the rice with a lime wedge

It may seem unorthodox but have a nice loaf of crusty bread on hand to mop up all the wonderful sauce! Happy birthday my dear and may this be a start of a new tradition.
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