blog by: Alisa
It's no secret: I love to cook. Most of the time, the results are great. There are those times when the meal is just comme ci, comme ça. *gives hand gesture for 'so so'* And sadly, there are those times when I just cannot manage to hit anywhere near my expected mark. Grrr... Those are the times when I feel like I've wasted every cent that went into the meal. Such are most of my attempts at cooking Chinese food. I just plain suck at it. I have a couple dishes that turn out great every time: sweet & sour pork or chicken, shrimp stir-fry, and fried rice. Still, those don't outweigh the countless Chinese dinners I have shoved down the disposal. So, I was taking a pretty big risk when I decided to make a go of Thai curry, but it was a risk well worth taking. It turned out amazingly good & if my family would have let me, I would have cooked it every night afterward until I got sick of the flavor. Why? Because I love curry. Green, red, yellow... I'd even be game for a pink curry, and pink is not my color. Interestingly enough, when you mix white coconut milk with red curry, you do not get pink curry. Thank goodness, because I was kidding about being open to pink curry.
The following recipes are for Firecracker Shrimp and Thai Chicken Curry. The shrimp appetizers satisfy my Southern-bred adoration of all things deep fried. I know it's the worst way to cook things, but sometimes it's the only way to cook things. These babies would not be the same if they were baked or steamed. Besides, it's not like I served my family deep fried Twinkies or Snickers bars. I do have some discipline. Not much, but enough to live to see another day.
1/4 cup coconut milk *
1/4 TSP red curry paste
1/2 TSP minced garlic
1/2 TSP minced ginger
1/2 TSP fish sauce
1/8 TSP curry powder
24 large raw shrimp
6 sheets of eggroll wrappers or (preferably) springroll wrappers
Small bowl of clean water
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Completely peel the shell off 12 of the shrimp. For the remaining 12, peel just down to the tail. Devein, if necessary. Add shrimp to marinade and mix til evenly coated. Chill in fridge for an hour. After chilling, remove shrimp from marinade and wipe off excess marinade from shrimp with a paper towel. Make 3 tiny cuts along the underside of each shrimp so that they will straighten out. Take the wrappers and cut them in half diagonally to make 12 triangles. Lay one of the triangles on your clean and dry work surface so that the edge you cut is horizontal in front of you. Starting with the left side, lay down one of the tail-on shrimp so that the tail sticks out past the bottom edge of the wrapper, but the tip does not go past the edge of the upper angle. Take that left corner and fold it over the shrimp and tuck it tightly around the tail end. Lay a tailless shrimp beside the first (fat end toward the bottom, skinny end up) and roll the first shrimp over the second. Lightly moisten the top point of the triangle, and fold it downward til it covers the end of the shrimp. Moisten the remaining portion of the wrapper and then roll the shrimp all the way to the end. If necessary, dab a little more water to the tip of the wrapper to make sure it is secure. Avoid getting any moisture on the outside of your completed shrimp wrap as it will make it stick to the plate that you will lay it on while finishing the other shrimp wraps. If there are any open areas, dab with a little water and pinch them together to seal. Do this for all of the shrimp.
You can cook these in a deep fryer, a wok, or a regular frying pan with enough oil to submerge the wraps. Heat your oil to 350 degrees. Drop shrimp wraps into hot oil and cook for about 3 minutes or until a nice golden brown on the outside. Do not overcook, as shrimp will dry out and become chewy when overcooked.
You can serve these with any sweet & sour sauce that you like, duck sauce, a mixture of 3 TBSP soy sauce and 3 TBSP rice wine vinegar, or with the following Thai sweet chili sauce.
THAI SWEET CHILI DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup water (divided)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 TSP minced ginger
1/2 TSP minced garlic
1 TSP hot chili sauce (found in the Asian food section of most any grocery store)
1 TSp ketchup
3 TSP cornstarch
In a small saucepan, mix together 1/4 cup water, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, chili sauce, and ketchup. Dissolve the cornstarch in the other 1/4 cup of water. Whisk into the saucepan & bring sauce to a mild boil to thicken. Remove from heat & allow to cool. Serve with firecracker shrimp.
*If you buy a 14 oz can of coconut milk, you can easily split it between this marinade and the Thai Red Curry recipe that follows. Seems a terrific waste otherwise. Unless maybe you like pińa coladas. ; )
THAI CHICKEN CURRY
1 can coconut milk (the remainder of what you used for the shrimp marinade is plenty)
1/8 cup red curry paste (add a little more to increase spice/heat if you want)
1/2 TSP yellow curry powder
1 TBSP fish sauce (found in Asian foods section of most grocery stores)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 lb fresh green beans, ends removed, cut in half, and then sliced down the middle (smaller, younger beans are preferred)
1 bell pepper (I like to use green and yellow for a more colorful dish)
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove minced garlic
1 lb chicken breasts or tenders, sliced thin
In a saucepan, add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in curry paste and curry powder, and mix until thoroughly blended. Add fish sauce, lime juice, and taste. Balance the flavor the way you prefer. (More curry for a spicier flavor, more lime for tanginess, fish sauce for salt.) In a large frying pan, saute onion. Add green beans and bell pepper and cook until they begin to get tender. Add garlic and chicken to frying pan, and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Pour the curry sauce over the vegetables and meat. Tear the basil into large shreds and toss in right at the end. Cook only long enough to wilt. Transfer chicken curry to serving dish. Serve with white rice.
Be fearless in the kitchen!