Curry in a hurry
May 26, 2016
Curry is beginning to become one of my go-to meals when I want something quick and easy.
Its heart, at least for me, is coconut milk. Forget your chicken broth or other broth-based preparations; I love me some coconut curry. Not that it tastes coconut-ish; it’s just that a can of coconut milk is cheap, easy to keep a bunch in the pantry, and imparts just about the right amount of liquid and creaminess to a curry sauce.
This particular curry was a shrimp curry, because I had frozen shrimp and I had set them out to thaw, on the basis I would figure out something to do with them by the time they thawed. Note: I freeze my shrimp in plastic bags or containers filled with shrimp and water; it takes it a while to thaw, but you don’t deal with freezer burn as long as the shrimp are submerged, and they taste better, too. These were some of the shrimp I’d picked up on a stop by Big Bayou Market the last trip back from Little Rock.
First off, I peeled and sauteed the shrimp, dusted with a bit of lemongrass powder, just barely until they turned white. Took those out and put them in a bowl. Then I started over again with diced onion and carrot. Another handy-dandy tip; I tend to peel an entire bag of carrots and cut them into two- or three-inch chunks when I open them. Saves time when I want some carrot sticks for lunch, or carrots for most any other reason. I sauteed both of those until they were just starting to get tender, and then chunked in some garlic confit, some lemongrass paste, and dried spices.
For this batch I used cumin, coriander and turmeric, plus a healthy dose of yellow curry powder. Don’t be asking me how much; you know I don’t measure stuff. Probably a little less than a teaspoon of the first three, close to a tablespoon of the fourth. I have become a red pepper wuss in my advancing years, so I didn’t add any red pepper; your mileage may vary, so add as much as you like or can stand.
To give that some liquid, I squirted some lime juice into the skillet, and let all that saute for a bit. Added some sugar snap peas that needed to be used. Then I added a 15-ounce can of coconut milk. And because I like a hint of sweet in my curries, I added a tablespoon of honey.
Third handy-dandy tip for the day: Check overstock stores and Asian markets for coconut milk. Unless it’s on sale at your local grocery, it’ll be cheaper there. I picked up four cans today for a buck a can at Big Lots. Not on sale, it’s $1.79 at Kroger.
Clapped a lid on it and let that simmer for 10 minutes or so, then added the shrimp back in. Let THAT simmer for a little bit, maybe another five minutes, no more. Dished it up over some basmati rice I’d put in the rice cooker before I started, and boom, dinner in 30 minutes.
A can of coconut milk will provide sauce for four hungry people. If you’re making less than that — or if you have allowed yourself to run out of coconut milk — you can sub yogurt instead. Apportion your protein and/or veggies accordingly. Much like a stir-fry, you can use about anything you like in curry — chicken, pork, fish, snow peas, sugar snaps, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, even pineapple or mango.
You can certainly make fancier curries than this, with more complex, depths of flavor. But this is no slouch when it comes to the good- and-healthy-in-a-hurry category. And I don’t know about you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em, but some nights, that’s pretty doggoned important to me.