Once apon a time, when I was a mere lad of the age of 6, I took a jalepeño from the bag recently brought from market. I remember, vividly, the images my imagination conjured...based solely on cartoons, mind you:
My head was going to explode.
My face was going to fill with red and flames would shoot out of my ears.
I would breathe fire.
I drafted a will and bequest my favorite reel-to-reel tape recordings to my little sister. Then, I took the jalepeño and stood with it millimeters from my tongue, making sure I was doing it in a mirror so I could watch for signs of sudden combustion.
So far, so good. I licked the jalepeño. It tasted neutral.
Confident, I popped the whole thing in my mouth and started crunching away. It was sweet, like a bell pepper.
And then....the heat. The heat made my tongue flop out of my mouth and instead of cooling, it burned to breathe over it. But in spite of all of this, I knew I was in love with anything spicy.
This recipe is not for the faint of tongue. While this is not a challenge dish where, if you eat it, you may end up in the hospital, it's certainly not for those who shy away from spicy tuna, pepper chocolate, or the kid's menu at various wing institutions. That's a rib at you, mom.
I LOVE Thai red curry. It is one of my favorite dishes to eat and one of my favorite to prepare. If only it were portable...
Submitted for your approval after a wicked long introduction having very little to do with the dish itself: A Southern-Thai Mashup "20 Minute Sandwich". —20MinuteSandwich
- Serves 4
- Red Curry Sauce
cornstarch (cornflour) mixed to a paste with
of peanut oil
clove of garlic, finely chopped
Red Curry Paste (I recommend Thai Kitchen)
onion, finely chopped
bell peppers, seeded, finely chopped
stalks of celery, finely chopped
of coconut milk
dark brown sugar
fresh basil leaves, cut into strips
- Shrimp Po' Boy
stick of butter (salted or non, to preference)
frozen shrimp, shelled and deveined- 4 oz. portions
ground cayanne pepper
ground mustard powder
dried ground thyme
6-8" portions of baguette or sub roll
shredded lettuce (optional)
tomato, cut into "sandwich slices" (optional)
- Red Curry Sauce
- In a mason (or recycled jelly) jar, prepare your cold water/cornstarch slurry by tightening the lid down and shaking the ever-living crap out of it. The mixture should be opaque with no visible lumps. Put to the side and save for later.
- Prepare your stovetop with your peanut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Not too much now: just enough to make some veggies sizzle...
- When your oil has adequately heated (toss a piece of chopped veggies in to verify it sizzles) add your garlic and chase it around the pan to release the flavor.
- When the garlic has STARTED to brown, slap your tablespoon sized pads of Thai Curry Paste down on the pan and stir it all about with the garlic. You may add a little more peanut oil to break it up.
- When the garlic/thai/oil paste has made one item of three, and they begin to grow very aromatic, mix the onion, let it clarify and brown in the mixture and then add the bell pepper and celery. Stir for 3-5 minutes.
- Add one cup of coconut milk to the mixture and let it simmer and reduce for 5 minutes.
- Pour the remaining cup of coconut milk into a medium sized sauce pot and heat on med. Here's where, if you're a multitasker, you could start doing other things with the rest of the sandwich.
- Once the sauce mixture is fairly reduced, pour it all into the sauce pot. Wash your saute pan out, you may need it for your shrimp in a little bit...
- Crank up the heat and get that pot a bubblin'. When there is a danger of sauce on the stovetop, you know it's about ready for your fish sauce, basil, and Sriracha.
- A quick note about Sriracha: This stuff is the buck stops here of oriental hot sauces. My measurement will yield a nice warm feeling in your tummy and a tingle on the tongue. However, if you're feeling saucy and you want a little more bite, ramp it up to two tablespoons. I've found that at three/four you start to taste the chili more than the coconut and the heat that's produced isn't good enough to excuse it.
- Your pot should be brewing pretty nasty still, so give that mason jar of slurry another quick shake to make sure nothing's settled and start adding a little bit (1/8 a cup) at a time to your curry sauce.
- Turn the temp down to med-hi (or med if your range doesn't have the in-between) and stir for five minutes to gauge the thickness. This should be a happy medium between tomato soup and sawmill gravy.
- Stir in your shrimp, serve over your po' boy, or eat with a spoon.
- Shrimp Po' Boy
- Prep your shrimp 10 minutes before you start making the sauce or 30 minutes before making a standalone sandwich by letting the shrimp thaw in a bowl of cool water. Running water over the shrimp speeds the process, but it also wastes water. It's your choice.
- The shrimp is ready to go when it has a little play to it. Frozen in the center is totally ok, as it can be fully cooked from this state in a matter of minutes.
- Heat a saute pan over medium and melt the butter down.
- Add the shrimp to the pan once the butter is melted.
- Using sprinkles and pinches of the spices listed above, season your shrimp to your personal tastes. These spices make up what is usually found in most "cajun seasoning" mixes.
- Cook shrimp for 3-5 minutes, or until every piece is pink and firm, but not hard. If you pick a piece and look where it was deveined, the meat should be a soft white instead of translucent.
- Remove the shrimp to a plate covered in a paper towel, drain the butter/seasoning onto a seperate plate. Lightly pat the flat sides of the bread in this mixture and toast the bread in the saute pan.
- For a true "Po' Boy", you need the lettuce, tomato, and mayo. If that's your cup of tea, add those ingredients. I prefer to have myself a thai sandwich to go, so I just sprinkle the shrimp on the bread and drizzle on some of my delicious Thai Red Curry Sauce.