Dear Thai Seared Shrimp with Tomato, Basil, and Coconut,
How I love thee! You have taught me two very important lessons. Is it okay if I share them now? I hope so, because that is the plan.
Lesson Number 1: Good food gets a man excited for marriage.
I first made you, you delicious dish you, back in spring 2009 [how do I remember these things?] for my then-fiancé, now-husband, Ben, when I visited him before we were married. He was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment at the time, working in Bloomington, Indiana while I was still in Athens, Ohio working with Cru [which is where we met]. I had to bring most of the ingredients with me, because what bachelor keeps limes, coconut milk, and basil around their kitchen? I did, however, hit up the grocery store for the shrimp because a 5 hour drive with seafood is not advisable. Just a little tip to start your Monday off right [you can thank me later ]. Anyways, I had you ready when Ben came home from a long day at work and it only made him that more excited for marriage. He loved how spicy and creamy your sauce was, how tender your shrimp was, and how comforting your rice was. Sad to say, he did not love the prospect of going back to boxed dinners for the next several months before we got married. Fortunately though, that has made Ben more appreciative of good food now that we are married. Win-win! And now, when I serve you, he just smiles and grins and asks for more. So thank you, Thai Seared Shrimp with Tomato, Basil, and Coconut. You have served me well.
But that is not all. You have also taught me another vital lesson.
Lesson Number 2: Always double check with herbs. There is a big difference between dried and fresh.
Oh yes. There is a definite difference between dried and fresh herbs. Yes, yes there is. I know that now. But after I made you for the first time, I went back to Ohio and raved about you to my roommates. One of the girls ended up making it for her Bible study a few weeks later and accidentally used 1/4 cup dried basil instead of 1/4 cup fresh basil [or 1-1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil]. We spent 20 minutes straining your sauce through a fine colander, hoping and praying that the girls would not be early that week, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. So thank you, dear dinner, for such a vital lesson, and for such a fun memory.
I believe this letter is getting long, and I am getting hungry. But again I want to say thank you, for all you have done and for your wonderful nourishment, your tantalizing aroma, and your speedy preparation time. I hope others love you as much as I.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 cup sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons red or green Thai curry paste [or substitute Thai chili garlic sauce]
- 1 pound uncooked shrimp, shells removed, devined, and peeled
- 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes [use regular diced tomatoes to tone down the spice]
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil [Thai if possible, can also substitute 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil]
- nam pla [Asian fish sauce, if desired]
- hot cooked rice
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook for about 2 minutes or until just soft. Add curry paste and cook an additional minute. Add shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, and brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are fully cooked. Slowly pour in coconut milk, basil, and a dash or two of nam pla [if desired], stirring well to incorporate. Continue to simmer until hot. Serve over rice.
Time: 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.