Saturday, May 24, 2014

Coconut Curry with Quinoa and Alaska Spot Shrimp

 I love coconut curry - the flavor profile is one of my absolute favorites. I adapted this from the recipe that we students and our instructor from my culinary arts class came up with, along with some elements of a dish I enjoyed at a local restaurant last summer.  Gather your ingredients ahead of time, and this dish is fairly quick to put together and the curry can be used in combination with most any vegetables and protein...may want to make a double batch!

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil 
4 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped rough
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 jalapeño, chopped (omit if you don't want the heat) 
lemongrass, cut into 2-inch lengths (6-7 pieces total)
2 Kafir lime leaves
1 bunch of scallion, chopped rough
2 cups water
2 cans of coconut milk
2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (chili paste)
3 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

lime juice - sugar - salt (to taste)

2 cups prepared quinoa
2 pounds spot shrimp, shelled, cleaned, and sautéed 
1 cup cooked, assorted seasonal veggies
 (green beans, peas, corn, cauliflower,
red peppers, carrots, whatever you like...) 

                          Sambal Oelek Chili Paste                                    Kafir Lime Leaves

 Put the oil, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, lemongrass, kafir leaf, and scallions and a dash  of salt in a large saucepot. Sweat* the vegetables until soft. 

Add the water and steep for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer on low, about 20 minutes.

Add curry, sambal oelek, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir and let simmer on low for 20 minutes, but you can simmer up to an hour for even more flavor. If sauce reduces or gets too thick, add more coconut milk or water. Right before it is done, add a bit of lime juice, sugar and salt to taste, and adjust any of the other seasoning if you think it's needed.

Meanwhile, you can sautee your shrimp in a small amount of olive oil.
 They only take about 2 minutes per side, if that.
 Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 
Prepare 2 cups of quinoa, set aside.

The final step for your sauce is to strain it.  A fine mesh strainer should do the trick if you don't have a chinois.  Simply pour the coconut curry through the strainer into a bowl. Discard the seasoning vegetables and set the curry aside.
To plate, scoop quinoa into a serving bowl, top with your seasonal veggies and ladle a generous amount of curry over the top. Sprinkle some of those gorgeous spot shrimp over the top and you are ready to go!
Nice with crostini or a salad. 

 *Don't sweat the small stuff...but do sweat your veg if you want to release the aromatics! In culinary terms, the word 'sweat' means to cook something over low heat in a small amount of fat, usually in a covered pan or pot. The objective in sweating vegetables is to soften them and release the moisture and aromatics, not to brown them.