Saturday, 30 March 2013

Creamy Coconut Shrimp

Creamy Coconut Shrimp

Most of my shrimp recipes are superfast, but not this one.  This one takes time and loving attention, but is so worth it!  This is a rich feast, suitable for company.  If you’re planning to serve this to dieters, don’t let them see this recipe!  ‘Tis sinful, actually.  But so worth it…

While this takes more time than usual, it’s not significantly more complicated.  Don’t be too tidy chopping, as the sauce gets blended once it’s cooked.

1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon fennel
several flakes of mace
3 green cardamom, bashed and ground a bit
1 black cardamom, husked and bashed
4 cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon or cassia equivalent

½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 plus tablespoons ghee (Indian clarified butter)

1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 Thai chillies
5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 large fresh tomato, chopped

1 can coconut milk
½ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

enough cleaned and shelled shrimp to serve 6

fresh or frozen green peas (optional)
½ fresh lime, juiced

Start by dry roasting the whole spices.  When they become fragrant and slightly wispy with smoke, put in spice grinder, but set aside the cinnamon or cassia.  Add the ground turmeric and paprika to the spice grinder, and buzz till finely ground.  Set aside.
Add the first 2 tablespoons of ghee to a large wide pan and heat to medium hot.  Toss in the cinnamon or cassia, onion, ginger, and chillies, and lower heat to medium.  Cook till the onion is golden and a bit crispy on the edges. 
Add the chopped garlic and cook for another few minutes.  Add the ground spices.  If they seem dry in that pan, get out more ghee.  I didn’t want this dish swimming in oil, but I was happy to use another tablespoon of ghee at this point.  Cook the spices for another couple of minutes, then add the tomato.  Add the coconut milk. 

At this point, I used a regular slotted spoon to remove the vegetable pieces, and put them into a container to hold my immersion blender.  I then blended them smoothly and returned them to the liquid.  If I had been using a deep pot, I could have just stuck the immersion blender into the pot, but a large wide pan is needed for quicker reduction of the coconut sauce, and you can better watch the progress of the shrimp cooking too.  Never put an immersion blender into a shallow pan, as it will cause a huge and splattering mess, she says, from sad experience…
Once the sauce ingredients are back together in the pan, stir, keeping on medium heat, and let reduce.  This is the time consuming stage.  It should be reduced to a thick sauce, which will need stirring from time to time.  This will take about twenty to thirty minutes.

Once the sauce is thick, taste for salt.  Add as necessary, then add the shrimp.  Watch very carefully.  As soon as they pinken up and start to curl, use your judgement.  As I was using frozen shrimp (fresh is very expensive here) I removed them from the pan with a spider.  (Not the creature, but a wire mesh spoon, Chinese in origin.)  You can use a large slotted spoon if you don’t have a spider. 
Since frozen shrimp releases liquid into the sauce, I continued to reduce the sauce till it was once again thick, about five minutes.  If you’re using fresh, you likely won’t need to reduce your sauce after the shrimp are cooked.  About two minutes before serving, I added frozen peas to the sauce, stirring till they thawed and heated through.  This is an optional step, completely up to you. 

Pour the sauce over the shrimp, squeeze the lime juice over the whole dish and take to the table.  Last night I served these with lacha parantha, but in the past, I’ve served with scented basmati rice.  For my dieting friend, I also served rajma tiki masala, which was a cruel thing to do, since she recently returned from India, is frantic for authentic flavours, and will never find my tikki masala cakes here in Calgary. I suppose I could take a box of the magic stuff into my local Indian grocery to see if they can source it for us.  Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Back to the creamy coconut shrimp, this is a silky and creamy dish, quite decadent, but excellent for company.  As for the dieter, I was careful to serve a fresh and light dessert, which you can find immediately below this post.  

Stay tuned to see how I curry up Easter this year!
Oh, and I added ribbons of kale to the rajma and cooked for 30 minutes.

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