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.