Authentic Thai Red Coconut Shrimp Curry
Thailand is such a beautiful place, and one of our favorite countries to visit in Southeast Asia. What I love most about Thailand is how deeply rooted the tradition, culture, and spirituality of the country is woven into everyday life, from the way people greet one another to the way they honor their cultures spirituality. The Thai people are kind and from our experience always willing to help you of you need it, and share with you a piece of their life and culture. I am so excited to share more of our travels throughout Southeast Asia with you all in a series of travel guides coming soon, but for now how about we talk food!
The food in Thailand is out of this world amazing. Lemongrass seems to be infused into everything, and fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices are the highlight of the meal. Protein is used in moderate amounts, and fish is typically the go-to option you will find in most dishes. The rice and noodles are only there for the purpose of soaking up the deliciousness that is the flavorful broth or sauce...this is my kind of cooking.
Even on a stifling hot, humid days you will find people on little stools at small street vendors eating up a piping hot bowl of pad thai, or a spicy curry, always filled with coconut milk, fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, and a little Thai humor to make the whole experience all the better.
What I love so much about Thailand is that the Thai markets are so accessible, and are such a strong part of the way people interact around food. They are crowded and bustling with people doing their daily shopping, and getting fresh ingredients to use in their cooking. This is something that in general other cultures I have found do so much better than what we do here in the United States, the quality and source of their ingredients is the most important part of their food...and of their cooking. This is how it should be, it was how I was raised to cook by my very traditional Italian grandmother and mom, and it's what I think sets apart the food culture in other countries from that which we have here in the USA.
But, since flying to Southeast Asia to get some authentic Thai Red Coconut Curry may not be in the cards for you anytime soon, I thought that I would bring some of Thailand right into your home in the form of this delicious curry soup. That you see is what I love so much about food. It can transcend across countries and cultures and connect us in ways that may have never been possible otherwise.
Thai food is also so much simpler to make than you would think, and once you know what the foundational ingredients are (many of which you probably already have on hand) you are going to feel so much more confident adventuring into the wonderful world of Thai cooking.
For this curry, the most important thing...if I haven't drilled this in enough already, is going to be your ingredients. Make sure that you are cooking with fresh, ideally local ingredients, and always make sure to use sustainably sourced shrimp.
There are many issues when it comes to sustainability in the shrimp industry, but most of the shrimp you buy in the supermarket is coming from Southeast Asian shrimp fisheries (most of which are in Thailand) that have horrible labor conditions, and are very environmentally unfriendly. The shrimp are then frozen and shipped across the world, which as you can imagine requires a significant amount of energy. There is very little that is healthy, ethical, or sustainable about the entire process...although there are some organizations that are working really hard to try and change that.
If you are interested in where you can buy the most sustainably sourced shrimp, and what to look for check out this resource from the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch.
Now back to this recipe. Traditionally this curry would be made with a homemade curry paste that is made using a specific combination of herbs/spices, and then ground together using a mortar and pestle...alternatively you can also you a food processor, which makes a perfectly delicious curry paste as well.
I am going to be sharing my recipe for three different homemade curry pastes with you soon but for now another great store bought option is the Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste. I find that it tastes almost as good as my homemade curry paste and is a great option to have on hand.
authentic Thai red Coconut shrimp curry
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
1 minced garlic clove
1 lemongrass stalk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 cup light coconut milk
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1 tb fish sauce
1 bottle clam juice
1 pound wild caught gulf shrimp
1 lime (Juice and zest)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Add the onion, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and curry paste to the skillet, and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk, fish sauce, clam juice, and coconut sugar.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes.
Add shrimp, cover and simmer for roughly 6-8 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through.
Remove lemongrass stalk and stir in lime juice.
Pour curry into individual bowls, and top each individual bowl with a sprinkle of cilantro and lime zest.
Serve as is, with jasmine rice, or asian vermicelli noodles and enjoy the incredible taste of Thailand right in your home.