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Green Curry Shrimp

My partner Dave and I spent a fun evening a few weeks ago making green curry paste over at a friend’s new apartment, a portion of which was ours to take home and freeze. It’s always fun trying to follow recipes with our fussy friends – does the recipe call for ginger? Pfeh, we have some fresh galangal we found. Cilantro? The friend we’re with doesn’t like cilantro, so surely we can make a parsley-based green curry paste instead. And there is no such thing as too much lemongrass (there is, really, but we didn’t hit it this time).

I’ve actually developed the ability to be selectively blind when it comes to reading recipes. I’ll be glancing through a cookbook, and I’ll point out a recipe I think looks good.

“You won’t like that,” Dave will say. “It has nuts in it.” Or whatever the issue may be.

“What? Oh, no, not my version,” say I. “I’ll use cocoa nibs instead, or oats, or I’ll grind the nuts first.”

Or something like that.

Point being, parsley-based green curry paste for our friend was a tasty example of how well this can work out. Next time, I think I want to try basing the green curry paste on something more interesting instead, like basil or sage.

Our green curry paste was not as spicy as the storebought brands I’ve tried, but it was worlds more flavorful. You can buy red curry paste and make do (Mae Ploy is the brand that comes most highly recommended, and I liked it when I tried it), but for green curry paste, nothing will suffice but to make it yourself. Luckily, that’s not really a difficult or complicated endeavor. It requires little more than a shopping trip and a few minutes with your food processor.

This was our way of playing with it for the first time. Dave insisted on the shrimp, and I really wanted to play with the rock sugar I’d picked in Chinatown. I read a few recipes for Thai shrimp curries, then put them all away and threw in a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, until it started to taste like dinner.

Green Curry Shrimp
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 C chicken stock
15 oz. coconut milk (approximately)
1 medium red pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
2 or 3 handfuls of green beans, ends snapped off and discarded
3 tbsp green curry paste, or to taste (recipe below)
2 carrots, julienned
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp Chinese rock sugar, ground into small chunks (you can substitute brown sugar or palm sugar)
1 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
1-2 big handfuls of fresh basil leaves
3 scallions, cut at an angle into thin slices
1 tsp sesame oil (or to taste)
salt to taste

Brown the onion and shallot in olive oil (or whichever oil you prefer) at high heat until they are somewhat browned, but not meltingly soft. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for just a moment, then add the chicken stock and coconut milk and lower the heat to simmer. Add all other ingredients except the shrimp, basil, scallions, and sesame oil.

Simmer for a little while, stirring occasionally, until it tastes right. You need to fuss with the quantity of curry paste, fish sauce, and salt until it is to your taste. Me, I keep adding more curry paste until my nose starts to drip, and then I’m happy.

Add the shrimp and basil and simmer, stirring, until they just turn opaque. Remove from heat and stir in the scallions and sesame oil last.

Serve with rice or rice noodles.

Green Curry Paste
15 green serranos, stemmed, seeded
4 large green jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded
4 sticks lemongrass, bottom 4-5″, outer layer removed
2 medium shallots
20 medium garlic cloves
1/4 C cilantro (or parsley, or whatever green herb you like)
3 tbsp fresh galangal (you can substitute ginger if necessary)
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp anchovy paste

Coarsely chop all the fresh ingredients.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan until fragrant.

Blend everything together in your food processor until it forms a smooth paste, or close enough.

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13 Responses to “Green Curry Shrimp”

  1. Rachel says:

    This is inspired! I discovered your blog last night, or rather this morning, and spent hours just pouring over the fabulous recipes and stories that went with them. And to my absolute delight comes a recipe for one of my favorite foods in the entire world, one that I will be trying poste haste.

    I hope you don’t mind that I have added a link to your blog on mine as it was you and a few choice others who have inspired me to start one of my own.


  2. Yvo says:

    I love the pictures with the vibrant colors… it makes me really wish there wasn’t any coconut milk in that (allergy). I have to ask where you got your dish though- that is so adorable! I never thought to make my own curry paste… Mmm….

    PS I was looking at my calendar recently and wondered if you’d heard/decided anything on the Dumpling Party? Hehe, it snuck up on us! Thanks!

  3. Tanna says:

    Fantastic, and I love the plate. Selectively blind…for me usually means I missread I like your effect better!
    Shrimp looks really great.

  4. Bee says:

    When I still lived in the Bay Area, I took a few Thai cooking classes (Kasma’s – highly recommended) and made the best curry I’ve ever had (as well as quite a few other fantastic Thai dishes (deep fried kaffir lime sausage was a personal favorite), but as I recall it was a lot of work (we did use a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor though), but it was really good. That said, I find that I’m okay with the flavor I get from the Mae Ploy pastes (the coconut milk you use also matters – Thai House was the worst in the taste test) – in green as well red (and penang and masaman).


  5. I love your dish (I love seafood in curry!) and your plate, too! So nice…where did you get it?

  6. Brilynn says:

    Beautiful plating!
    And congrats on being in the top 5 for food blogs, I loved that post, I could just picture it!

  7. cindy says:

    that looks so good i can almost smell it! i love green curry! (and red curry, and indian curries…) ;]

  8. meltingwok says:

    Could totally smell the green curry aroma from my end..*drooling* it doesn’t look too overloaded with coconut milk either, good thing :) thx for sharing, cheers ! :)

  9. Danielle says:

    Rachel – Mind? I’m honored. Your new blog looks like it’s off to a great start.

    Yvo – Thanks for reminding me, I just sent out the official, detailed invite.

    Yvo, Rasa Malaysia – I got the plate in [NYC's] Chinatown, at the supermarket on Canal on the south side of the street… between Mott and Mulberry, maybe? Somewhere around there. The one with all the dishes in the basement.

    Bee – It’s just a matter of personal taste, I’m sure. More importantly, those deep fried kaffir lime sausages sound unbelievable. Please tell me you have a recipe for them you can share!

    Tanna, Brilynn, Cindy, meltingwok – Thank you!

  10. are you loving your new camera??? i love this, but we have no shrimp. well, no access to decent shrimp. do you have a fish you’d recommend for this dish?

  11. Danielle says:

    EH – I really am! And, hm, this would probably work well with chicken or any white-fleshed fish (salmon, not so much).

  12. [...] Red Cooked Chicken from Chow Times Steamed Egg Custard from Kitchen Crazy Daffy A PINK Cranberry Punch from Kitchen Unplugged Habeas Brulee’s Green Curry Shrimp Pork Rib and Lotus Root Soup from Tastes as Good as It Looks Red Bean Porridge from Rose’s Kitchenette chinese cuisine, Ingredient Spotlight, rock candy, rock sugar, yellow lump sugar February 20th 2007 | Permalink | 0 Comments » [...]

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