I had never made curry before, but thanks to an article in Fine Cooking magazine I had great success the very first time. They teach, as I’ll show you below, how to make a flavorful curry base. From there, simply add your choice of protein (meat, chicken, seafood or Tofu) and vegetables. I chose chicken, shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms but it is really up to you as to what you want to use.
Let me also say upfront that I quickly gave the chicken, shrimp and vegetables a quick stir fry because I wanted them to develop more flavor (and browning does that) than just by cooking in the curry base but you definitely don’t need to do that. If you choose not to, just add to the broth (I’ll tell you when in the recipe below) and simmer until cooked through (approximately 3- 5 minutes for the protein and vegetables).
Keys for success: 1) Have all your ingredients prepped and chopped prior to any of the cooking. This will make the entire cooking process much easier and organized. 2) If you are going to stir-fry your ingredients first, before adding to the curry base, make sure your pan is very hot. You want to quickly brown them a bit – but not necessarily cooking 100% through – you can finish them off while simmering in the curry base.
Red Curry Chicken and Shrimp (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Apr/May 2011)
For the curry base:
- 1 (13.5 to 14 oz) can of coconut milk (you can use light if you’d like)
- 1/4 cup red curry paste
- 1 cup lower stock chicken broth
- Shake the can of the coconut milk well. This is important because shaking helps create a consistent thickness since the fat often solidifies at the top of the can.
- In a 3 to 4 quart saucepan or wok, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. It will get very thick (light coconut milk will thicken but it won’t get very thick) and shiny and may or may not separate, either is fine.
- Add the red curry paste whisk well and cook, continuing to whisk for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and the remaining coconut milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- If you were going to add your protein and vegetable without first stir-frying – this is the time to do it. Also add the light brown sugar and fish sauce (see below). Cook for 3 to 5 minutes and taste or cut to ensure these ingredients are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper if desired; Serve!
The rest of the ingredients:
- 1 lb. chicken, thinly slices (1/4″)
- 1/2 lb. of shrimp
- 1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 1/2 cups Shitake mushrooms, sliced (you can use any mushroom: button, cremini, oyster, etc.)
- 3 tsp. vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, more to taste if desired
- 1 tsp. fish sauce, more to taste if desired
- If you are going to brown your protein and vegetables prior to adding them to the curry base, start doing so when the coconut milk is reducing. Add 1 1/2 tsp. oil to a pan, get it very hot (over medium-high heat) and then add the shrimp and chicken and cooking for about 2 minutes, turning once. Remove to a plate. Add another 1 1/2 tsp. oil and then do the same thing with the vegetable.
- When vegetables are done add them to the curry base. Also add the chicken and shrimp. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Taste to see if dish needs salt/pepper/more sugar (for sweetness) or fish sauce. Adjust seasonings and serve!
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