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Shrimp and Green Coconut Curry

Today, we are celebrating our fifth Christmas. A breakfast brunch and another pile of presents await us, and I’m beginning to plan my way out of so much indulgent eating. For the past few weeks, the amount of cheese, bread, cookies, cake and turkey I’ve eaten is quite astounding. It has all been delicious, but I will be the first to admit that I am ready for big plates of vegetables and some lighter fare. A recovery from these holiday indulgences is certainly in order.

So if you are in a similar boat, I think this is a recipe you’ll enjoy. I also find that after all the turkey, casseroles and snacks my families traditionally serves, I begin to crave dishes with different flavor profiles—Thai, Mexican or Indian for example.

As I have not made that many Thai curries from scratch, I stayed close to the ingredients in the original recipe, which is from this month’s Bon Appétit. To make the sauce, you make a green paste of lemongrass, cilantro, shallot, jalapeño, ginger and basil and then cook it until the liquid evaporates, concentrating the flavors. I changed many of the quantities to cut the recipe down to just four servings but added red bell pepper for a more colorful dish. I’d imagine you could make the sauce and cook thinly sliced chicken or golden brown tofu in it. I also have fond memories of eating a green curry with chunks of little round Thai green eggplant, if you happen to find those.

I recommend jasmine rice with this; we made ours and added a tablespoon of coconut milk to the rice water for extra flavor. We also made a fresh orange apple chutney, which was delicious with the shrimp. I’ve included both recipes below.

Shrimp and Green Coconut Curry
Adapted from Bon Appétit, December 2010

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 lemongrass stalks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup coarsely chopped shallots
1 to 2 coarsely chopped seeded jalapeños
1 tablespoons Indian curry powder (such as Madras)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (plus sliced leaves for garnish)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (minus one tablespoon to add to rice)
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Lime wedges

1. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain.

2. Cut 2 inches from bottom of each lemongrass stalk; discard tops. Thinly slice bottom pieces; place in food processor. Add next 5 ingredients, chopped basil, and 1/4 cup water to processor. Blend until paste forms.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry paste and cook, stirring often, until dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk; bring to simmer. Add shrimp and red pepper; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Add green beans; stir to heat through. Season curry with salt and pepper. Garnish plates with basil and serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.

Fresh Orange Apple Chutney

1 navel orange
1/2 apple (such as Gala, Fuji or Golden Delicious), peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
1/2 teaspoon (generous) garam masala
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1. Cut all peel and white from oranges. Cut segments into 1/3-inch cubes; place in medium bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt. Note: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

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