10.26.2013

Curry in a Hurry

Weeknights. School nights. Late nights. Busy nights.

Whatever you call them, it is sometimes hard to come home on these days and cook a meal, whether it's for your family, main squeeze, friends, or even just yourself.

I am the kind of person who doesn't compromise for dinner. If I am not in the mood to cook (like that has ever happened), I would never simply have a bowl of cereal, or chips and salsa, or a pint of ice cream. I always want a real meal.

Stir-fry - the method we were all taught in college to make a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal with no fuss - is the perfect go-to cooking style when you want something good, but were late from the office, tired from taking care of too many people during the day, or just didn't feel like it.

Today's Thai-inspired shrimp curry is a perfect example of a stir-fry that takes just minutes if you have all the ingredients. And, if I didn't have all the ingredients, ... punt!

No peppers? Use celery, carrots, and bok choy. No onions? Shallots or scallions would do. No homemade curry paste? That's easy - you should always keep a jar of prepared curry paste (purchased or homemade) in your fridge or freezer. And, while we are at it, we always keep frozen shrimp on hand, too - they thaw fast, making this a really quick meal. (And we save the shrimp shells, along with bits and pieces of onion and shallot, in a freezer bag to make shrimp stock.)

We generally serve our stir-fries with rice, but it isn't necessary. The flavors by themselves are all we really crave, along with a soup spoon to get every last bit of the broth.

And, even though chopsticks aren't generally used in Thailand, I have started using them, as they force me to eat a little slower...

Happy stirring!

Shrimp and Peppers in Thai Red Curry Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large white onion, sliced pole to pole
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 inch-long piece ginger, julienned
1 tablespoon fish sauce or salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (purchased or recipe here)
3 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
jasmine or basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
1 pound small-to-medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, quartered


Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium high heat. Add onions, peppers, and ginger. Stir fry until tender-crisp.

Add fish sauce and curry paste to vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until curry paste is dissolved and fragrant - about 1 minute. Add kaffir lime leaves, pour in coconut milk and bring to a boil.


Season shrimp with salt and pepper, and add to pan. Spoon vegetables and sauce on top of shrimp. Turn heat down to an active simmer. Cook 2 minutes on each side, depending on size. Shrimp are done when they are a light pink and opaque all the way through.


Serve immediately with rice, a sprinkle of cilantro, and wedges of lime.


Serves 2-4. 


24 comments:

  1. Looks so delicious I think I can smell it.

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  2. You are so right, David! Thai curries are super easy if you have the paste on hand. I need to start keeping some at the ready. There are days I am so tired from running around after the kids that I actually don't want to cook ***gasp!*** but like you! I cannot settle for chips or cookies! I want food. I end up cooking despite being exhausted but I could make life easier I guess!
    This curry looks vibrant and totally fantastic!

    Nazneen

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    1. Thanks, Nazneen - I can only imagine how you feel on those days after running after children all day! I am glad you can get Fresno chiles in Colorado - I will continue to look here, too. It would be fun if the red paste were actually red!

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  3. David, delicious, dear friend, delicious! Stir-fries are wonderful and so is Thai food - one of my best friends (now living in Berlin) spend 15 years of her life in Thailand and I love her Thai cooking - this recipe of yours looks like I would love a bowl of this too!
    Hope your weekend is wonderful!
    Liebe Grüße aus Bonn,
    Andrea

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    1. Vielen Dank, Andrea - it is a very colorful and fun dish, and we both love Thai cooking, too! Along with about every other nationality and ethnicity! :)

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  4. I compromise so much, it's embarrasing! I hardly make rice for curries anymore, I simply add a pumpkin/carrots/potatoes to the mix and that's it! I snorted at you comment about the curry paste...jajaja!

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    1. We make rice often because Mark LOVES rice. Me? I love it but it just makes me fat(ter)! Glad I was able to make you laugh, Paula!

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  5. I used to compromise a lot when it came to dinners but I am trying to be better. Now I always make sure I have some homemade meals in the freezer just in case I need them.
    With your curry paste, how long does it last once you have made it? I had heard that you could freeze homemade curry paste but I wasn't really sure if that would compromise the flavour or not.

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    1. Karen - the curry paste kept a long time. And the funny thing was that it never froze hard. It was always pasty enough to scoop out what I needed. I did put a piece of waxed paper directly the surface to avoid ice crystals. I think I used it all within two months, though.

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  6. Lovely flavors and dish!!!We need to find that fish sauce.. Havent found it in our local grocery stores.

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    1. Thanks, guys! I assumed it would be really easy to get it in an Asian grocery there. Hmmm. Maybe but it from Amazon?

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  7. Love the name and the flavors, David!
    Gotta make this for dinner by the w/end, if I can wait that long.....

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  8. Someone who wrote above described the meal as looking "vibrant." I agree! It looks very inviting! My go-to meal when I am busy is a baked potato but this looks faster (and far more interesting!). xo

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    1. Thanks, Susan! While baked potatoes are yummy, I might want to have a little variety here and there - and this is a good option!

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  9. Oh man. By the end of your post I was smelling lime, chilli and ginger, steaming jasmine rice and creamy coconut. Such a beautifully photographed post David! I haven't made a stir fry for ages. Not sure why, as I do love them for a quick meal! Strangely enough, I've had a few 'can't be bothered cooking' days recently. Unusual for me. I think it's both the encroaching heat (about 35-37 degrees C for the past week!!) and just general work stress. Hm, I might try and wind down with a curry tonight!

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    1. Laura - when we hit 35°-37° here in the desert we rejoice that it has finally cooled off! (our summer norms are around 43°! Still, I imagine you have a lot more humidity there, which really makes 35° almost unbearable... The nice thing about spicy curries is that they somehow make me feel cooler after!

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  10. I need to start cooking more stir-fry's for dinner. There was a time when I'd be doing something in a wok at least four times a week. Now, it's more like every four months. I think I've forgotten how quick and easy something like your curry is. And lets not forget how nutritious and delicious, and fresh.

    David, thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Funny, John - my post was actually a reminder to myself how good a stir-fry can be! SO easy to get caught up in other methods and cuisines. But I guess there are bigger problems, eh?

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  11. I agree. I'm never satisfied with just cereal for dinner. It's gotta be a real mean. No matter how tired I am after a long day of work.

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    1. Glad to know I am not the only one out there, Cory!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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