Today’s experiment is a coconut-milk based shrimp curry that is generally Malay in spirit, but which would be very much at home on an Indonesian table. The spice blend is fairly simple but the end result will be quite fiery, particularly given the Thai chili in the Sambal paste. I am using my own home-made Sambal Terasi for this recipe, but you can substitute any simple hot chili blend, or even a Thai red curry paste, if you like…
- ¾ lb. medium Shrimp;
- 1 small Zucchini, sliced obliquely;
- 1 small Onion, sliced lengthwise into wedges;
- 2 Jalapenos, sliced;
- ½ cup Red Bell Pepper, cut into irregular chunks;
- 1 can Thick Coconut Milk;
- 1 ½ tbsp. minced Lemongrass;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Sambal Terasi;
- 1 tbsp. Turmeric;
- 1 tbsp. ground Coriander Seed;
Toss the shrimp with the Turmeric and a pinch of salt and set aside for at least twenty minutes.
Sprinkle the zucchini slices with a little salt, toss with a teaspoon or two of oil and then grill on a ridged pan until light grill-marks appear. You can omit this step if you like, but the grilling will improve the flavor and give the slices an attractive appearance in the finished dish. Once this is done, transfer the slices to a bowl for the moment.
Next, heat your pan or wok over a moderate flame and add a tablespoon or so of oil. When it is hot, add the shrimp and toss quickly until they are cooked through. Transfer them to the same bowl as the zucchini.
Now, replenish the oil in the wok and add the lemongrass and ground coriander. Stir until they release their aromas. Add the sambal terasi (or substitute) and the Jalapeno, then continue cooking just until the Jalapenos are beginning to soften.
Add the red pepper and onion and stir for a minute or so longer then add back the shrimp and the zucchini. Stir in the coconut milk and, if it is a little too thick, add a little water to give the right consistency. Continue to stir until all is heated through and then transfer to a serving dish. You can serve right away at this point, garnished with coriander leaf or something along those lines, but this is a dish that will be much improved if you let it cool and sit overnight before warming again for service.
We did let this curry sit overnight but we tasted it first and it was a really nice blend of flavors as is. The following day, however, the very potent chili fire had mellowed ever so slightly to give a lovely roundness to the overall effect. Further additions, such as galanga, cardamom, or even clove, would not be amiss at all but, in fact, the simplicity of just the sambal terasi, coriander and the slight hint of turmeric was a winner…