Thai Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple
Thai stick it to you: I can’t remember the first time I had really good Thai food. But I do remember I was very intrigued with the flavors. I became especially fond of the curries. I like spicy food and the heat in curry is my favorite kind of heat. Curry heat is kind of heat that shows up at the end of a bite, not the front. Some spicy food is so hot it burns my lips and that ruins it for me. I can’t get past the pain to get to the flavors. This may not be a great comparison but some wines have such a long finish they just deliver layer after layer of flavors long after the sip is down the hatch. That’s true for me with good curry. Okay, I like chicken wings that are really hot just so I can extinguish them in bleu cheese dressing. But, I like my curries with slow, backdoor heat.
Use your coconut: Coconut oil and coconut milk give this dish it’s smooth, rich, and off sweet flavors. Just recently the heath benefits of virgin organic coconut oil have become recognized. Coconut oil is healthy oil with a high flash point and great flavor. Regular coconut milk is a must for this dish. Skip the” light” in favor of full rich flavor and healthy fat. Besides being wonderfully tasty, this is a pretty dish. The pink shrimp and sauce with a dash of yellow from the pineapple and green from the basil and cilantro look like a decorator’s wheel.
Cut and paste: Curry paste comes in all heat ranges. I like a medium hot as a base so I can add enough paste to get the great curry flavor. If the paste is too hot I find I back away from adding enough to bring out the curry flavor. We can always raise the heat with other spices so use the paste first for curry flavor and next for heat. The best way is to test some brands. I’ve always bought my paste pre made but one day I’ll try to make it on my own. Most supermarkets carry curry paste in the Asian section but if you can find a Thai market better yet. They may have many to taste so you can find your favorite. This dish is made with red curry but I like green and Panang as well.
Red badge of Curry: I just wanted to write that down so I did. What’s up with the pineapple? I normally don’t make red curry with pineapple or mango but it’s a great combo. If the curry is hot the sweet fruit offers a cooling bite and a great contrast in the dish. I don’t cook the pineapple but add just before serving. I also put it as a “condiment” on the table so some can add if they like.
Thai Red Curry with Shrimp and Pineapple
- 2 lbs. of raw peeled shrimp, 30-35 per lb size
- 3 Tablespoons of virgin organic coconut oil divided
- 2-14 oz. cans of whole unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons medium hot red curry paste
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey to taste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- Dash of sea salt
- 4 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 4 Thai basil sprigs (tops)
In a 12” heavy skillet heat ½ the coconut oil on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until just pink. Set aside and drain the remaining liquid out of the skillet. Add 1 Tablespoon of the remaining coconut oil and add the onions cooking on medium. Cook for about 2 minutes and add the garlic and the red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes more until the peppers start to soften but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Add the remaining coconut oil and curry paste to the skillet cooking for a minute until the paste becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk (it may have separated in the can so be sure to get the thick stuff out) ginger, fish sauce and stir with a whisk, being sure to break up the paste and combining the ingredients well. Simmer until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the honey to get a slight sweet taste. Then add the cayenne pepper to perfect the heat. After the sauce has reduced by 1/3 add the shrimp, peppers and onions back to the skillet and heat through (about 1-2 minutes). Then add ½ the cilantro, stir. Serve in a bowl or over Jasmine rice. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and basil. Salt to taste.
Tips: If you don’t like to serve the curry over rice it looks nice family style served with rice on the side. I will cook my jasmine rice in light coconut rice for extra coconut flavor. It’s a little softer texture and can be a side dish with mango.