Shrimp in Red Thai Coconut Curry Sauce with Fresh Sweet Corn

Earlier, I was enjoying this gorgeous spring day with my windows open, a pot of Bolognese sauce bubbling away on the stove, and chocolate chip cookies cooling on the counter. Can you tell I’ve missed cooking? I mean, I’ve been cooking; my family hasn’t gone hungry, I assure you. But I haven’t been cooking, cooking… Like, the kind of cooking where I wake up in the morning and spend most of my day doodling around in the kitchen, making up dishes like the one I’m about to share with you.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have my first Thai food experience until I was at least 25 years old. My dad cooked a lot of Asian-style food when I was a kid, but Thai was not part of his repertoire. Since discovering Thai food, I have become completely and hopelessly addicted. You can bet that if I’m having a wildly uncontrollable food craving, it will be a Thai food craving. It is just so flavorful and balanced. I love the heat; I love the combination of salty, sweet, and sour; I adore coconut milk, Thai basil, and cilantro. So, the other night the craving struck. And, yes, we have a great Thai food restaurant nearby, and yes, they deliver. But I felt like cooking, and my creative juices were already flowing.

This is what I came up with:

 

Shrimp in Red Thai Coconut Curry Sauce with Fresh Sweet Corn

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**Note: this takes minutes to prepare, and it really should be served with rice–jasmine rice, please. So, before you start prepping your ingredients, put a pot of jasmine rice on to cook (instructions follow). It will be ready to soak up all the yummy sauce by the time you’re done cooking.

Ingredients:

For the rice:

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water

For the curry:

  • 1 pound shrimp-peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 1 cup of fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears of corn
  • 2 red fresno chile peppers, seeds and ribs removed and finely sliced into long strips
  • 4 garlic cloves-sliced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger-peeled and julienned (you can grate it if you want, but I like the long, thin pieces of ginger)
  • 1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • juice from 2 fresh limes
  • Cilantro and basil (Thai basil if you can find it!)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To Prepare:

For the rice:

In a medium sauce pan, add rice and water and bring to a full boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to lowest setting, clamp on a lid, and set your timer for 20 minutes. Don’t stir it; don’t lift the lid; just let it cook for 20 minutes and you will have perfect, fluffy rice.

For the curry:

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until very hot–I used cast iron. Add vegetable oil, swirl to coat pan, and add shrimp in a single layer. Cook for no more than 2 minutes, tossing to get both sides cooked, remove from pan and set aside. They will cook a little more in the sauce, so don’t overcook them here. Overcooked shrimp are not worth eating.

Add corn, garlic, ginger, and peppers to the same pan and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add curry paste and stir for about 30 seconds, then add coconut milk and fish sauce to pan. Stir to combine and scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium, add shrimp to sauce and cook for about 5 minutes. The sauce should be at a gentle simmer, not a full rolling boil. When your shrimp are just cooked through, and your sauce is slightly thickened, remove from heat, add lime juice and a big handful of chopped cilantro and basil, and you’re done!

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Serve with jasmine rice and enjoy!

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Pesto Crusted Halibut

This recipe was an unexpected hit. The flavor combination and inspiration came from a recipe I had at a friend’s house. I fiddled with it, as I always do, and came up with this: an incredibly flavorful, satisfying meal that happens to be quite healthy and comes across as kind of fancy but couldn’t be easier to prepare (4 ingredients!). The quantities can be scaled up or down with ease, and feel free to use your favorite fish, we prefer halibut, but Mahi Mahi is very good too. The first time I served it to my family, my table suddenly became the dinner scene from What About Bob. What?! You’ve never seen it??! Well click here and prepare to giggle. Bill Murray is the funniest. Ok, back to the fish. I was in crazy healthy mom mode when I made this once, and served it with quinoa (say it with me “Keen-Waaa”) and wilted fresh spinach. Talk about a meal full of super health foods. But this would be wonderful with any kind of rice or grain, mashed potatoes, or even just a simple salad and a hunk of good crusty bread. Try it… You’ll like it.

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Pesto Crusted Halibut

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6-8ounce) halibut fillets about 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup of your favorite basil pesto (plus some reserved for serving)
  • 1/4 cup dry Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup pine nuts, lightly crushed (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can easily do this in a ziploc bag, just lightly press on them with a rolling pin, bottom of a measuring cup, wine bottle…)
  • Lemon for serving (optional)

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Pat halibut dry with paper towels, and place on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, allowing for some space between the fillets. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper.

Combine pesto and breadcrumbs to form a paste (if reserving some for serving, make sure you reserve it before adding breadcrumbs.) Place about 1/4 cup of pesto-bread crumb mixture on each fillet, and press down to form an even layer covering the entire top surface of the fillet (I use my fingers for this).

Divide the pine nuts evenly over the pesto layers, each one should get 2-3 tablespoons depending on the size of your fillets.

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Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until the pine nuts get toasted, and the fish is just cooked through and opaque.

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Serve with lemon wedges and reserved pesto.

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Enjoy! (and prepare for lots of “Mmmmmm” noises.)