curry-flavor shrimp with sesame rice

Curried Shrimp wth Sesame Rice

It’s been so cold that I decided to cook something hearty but quick and easy. I found this recipe for Sesame Rice Salad in the South Beach Diet cookbook, the blue cover. Since then, I’ve adapted it in some form or another depending on the vegetables I have on hand. One thing I won’t swap is the asparagus. It must have asparagus! Bright green, cooked asparagus is such a pretty contrast in this dish. Though the rice and shrimp are spicy, the crisp-tender asparagus cools the mouth.

Curry-Flavor Shrimp with Sesame Rice

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

20 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, washed and patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons curry powder (I recommend Montego, the Jamaican curry powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
8 stalks asparagus, cut in thirds
1/2 cup frozen edamame
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
cooking spray
2 scallions sliced thin on the diagonal
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced fine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Season the shrimp with curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.

Boil a saucepan of water, lightly salted. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green. Remove from the heat at once, drain, and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Spray cooking spray in a large skillet. Heat the skillet until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the shrimp and cook on one side until no longer pink, 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side, 1 minute.

Add the frozen edamame and peas to the hot skillet and cook until they are heated through, scraping up the browned bits or fond on the bottom. Add the rice and the cooked asparagus. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, mix the canola oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Pour over the rice and toss lightly. Add the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Toss lightly. Add red pepper flakes, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

basil chicken in coconut curry sauce

When a dish “needs something” the cooks in my family (the Jamaican side, that is) always say, “Put  a country pepper in-a de pot!” When I tried this dish from Simply Recipes for dinner, I thought it was light and delicious, but it definitely needed a country pepper. What we call a country pepper is also called a Scotch Bonnet. Its close relative is the Habañero. I took the last Habañero out of  the freezer and put that into the sauce. Now a Scotch Bonnet/Habañero will add some heat but mostly it will add flavor to the dish.

You can tell I’m so used to the vivid flavors of Jamaica and Thailand, and even though I added the country pepper,  I still wasn’t happy with the sauce.  I could hear a voice in my head say “sai nam pla!” So I added some fish sauce to the curry. Fish sauce or nam pla is pungent but it  adds saltiness and flavor without changing the color of the sauce, thus making it ideal for this light curry.

Some compromises in favor of “lite” cooking. To lighten the calorie load of this dish I used “lite” coconut milk. White rice is best to serve with curry sauces because it soaks up the sauce. However, brown rice won’t do this.  So instead of a traditional white rice accompaniment to this curry dish, I made a medley; a mix of white Thai jasmine (hom mali) rice and brown basmati. Both were the long grain varieties. The ratio is 1 cup white to 2 cups brown rice.

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast (2 thighs or 1 large breast)

1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large whole country pepper (Scotch Bonnet or Habañero) (2 jalapeño peppers in original recipe)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil
1 14-oz can lite coconut milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce, to taste
3 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

Hot cooked rice

METHOD

1 In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, chili powder, and turmeric. Set aside.

2 Rinse chicken, pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Put into a bowl and sprinkle the spice mix over all the pieces. Coat well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

3 In a large skillet heat 1 Tablespoon oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and country pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the onions, pepper and garlic from the pan and put into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Use the same pan for the next step.

4 Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat on medium high heat. Add one half of the chicken pieces, spreading them out on the pan so they are not crowded. Brown for a few minutes on each side. When the chicken pieces are cooked through, and no pink remains, remove from pan, add to the bowl with the onions. Cook the second batch of chicken pieces the same way. Remove from pan, add to bowl with onions.

5 Add the coconut milk, minus a couple tablespoons, to the skillet. In a small bowl, mix the remaining coconut with the corn starch to dissolve the corn starch. Add the corn starch mixture back to the skillet with the coconut milk. Cook on medium heat and stir till thick and bubbly. Mix in the fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Add chicken mixture, basil, and ginger. Cook 2 minutes more to cook through.

Serve over rice. Serves 4.

I served basil chicken in coconut curry sauce with Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy from about.com. Baby bok choy is sweeter and the stems thinner than the adult variety.

Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy

Ingredients:

4 bunches baby bok choy (basically, 1 bunch per person)
2 slices ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup water
A few drops sesame oil, optional
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir-frying

Preparation:

Wash the baby bok choy and drain. Separate the stalks and leaves. Cut the stalk diagonally and cut the leaves across.Trim the tips and the ends.

Heat wok and add oil. When oil is ready, add ginger and stir-fry briefly, for about 30 seconds, until the ginger is aromatic. Add the bok choy, adding the stalks first, and then the leaves. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar, and salt, and stir-fry1 on high heat for 1 minute.

Add the water, cover the wok and simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and serve. Serves 4.

coconut curried chicken

I’ve made this recipe from the South Beach Diet cookbook many times and each time it always surprises me because it’s so flavorful. It’s sweet, sour, salty, nutty, and a little bit spicy. To season it, I’ve added fish sauce (in Thai: nam pla) instead of salt  and it really makes a difference. Instead of brown rice,  I served the coconut curried chicken tonight with cooked pearled barley, steamed broccoli drizzled with lemon juice, and steamed green beans with kosher salt.

Coconut Curried Chicken

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon powdered coriander or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons almonds, ground
1 teaspoon sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons water
Scallions sliced diagonally for garnish
2-4 teaspoons fish sauce, to taste, if desired

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the broth. Add onion, garlic, cilantro, ginger, lemon peel, cumin and turmeric, and cook 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in the coconut milk, almonds, sugar substitute, and red pepper. Return chicken to the skillet, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate. Reserve the sauce. To the sauce in the pan, add the tamarind paste mixed with 2 teaspoons water. Stir into the sauce and gently boil until thickened. Add the fish sauce, if desired, to taste. Pour sauce over the chicken.
  4. Serve with brown rice, if desired, and sugar snap peas with red peppers.

Caribbean island lime shrimp

I have a pet peeve when I talk about the Caribbean.

The word is Car-rib-bee-an, not Ca-rib-bee-an. I’m from the Caribbean but I’ve never had this dish before. Despite its dubious provenance (about.com), I can say that it was not bad at all; unusually sweet, salty, spicy, tart, and sour–which surprises the mouth rather like the first time one eats Pad Thai. One thing I don’t understand is why a recipe calls for alcohol and then notes you can leave it out. Since I don’t drink, I don’t have alcohol on hand, so I was happy to leave it out.

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1/8 cup tequila, about half a mini-bottle (optional)
1 tablespoon Triple Sec or Cointreau orange liqueur, about half a mini-bottle (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on for presentation if you wish

PREPARATION:
Measure 1/4 cup olive oil, lime juice, orange juice concentrate, tequila (if using), Triple Sec (if using), cilantro, garlic, sweet onion, curry powder, salt, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, and black pepper into a large zip-top bag. Seal and squish contents to mix. Add shrimp to marinade, squeeze out all the air, and seal. Turn bag to coat shrimp. Refrigerate for 1 hour. (Do not over-marinate or the citrus acids will “cook” the shrimp.)

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade, and place in a single layer in the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute, then flip the shrimp to the other side. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will become rubbery. Add the reserved marinade to the pan. Cook 1 minute, then remove shrimp and keep warm. Continue cooking the marinade until it reduces two-thirds to a thick sauce. Turn off the heat, return the shrimp to the pan, and toss in the sauce.

Cook’s note: If using medium shrimp (31 per pound), don’t cook for 2 minutes. Cook for 1 minute then remove from the pan. To cook all the shrimp at the same time, and to prevent overcooking, I turned off the heat while putting them in the pan. It’s important to work quickly so don’t be squeamish;  stick your hand in the bag and grab a handful of shrimp and sprinkle them in the oil. That’s why it’s safer with the heat off.

Serve Caribbean Island Lime Shrimp over white rice. Another serving idea, and low calorie too, is to serve it with romaine lettuce leaves. This dish is also good as a room temperature appetizer for parties. I made this dish last night so other good accompaniments are roasted yams (American sweet potato–yam in the Caribbean is a different vegetable), and of course,  the strawberry, spinach, hearts of palm salad.

Yield: 4 servings