The outstanding thing about this delicate curried shrimp is that all its formerly exotic ingredients can these days be found in supermarkets. Of the almost uncountable curry powders available, I chose this one because my first taste of such was from a grocery store packet a Malaysian friend brought as a gift from a visit to her family home in Kuala Lumpur. Fermented fish sauce, a key seasoning throughout Southeast Asia and into China and Japan, is also more and more commonly available. Like its vegetarian cousin, soy sauce, a few teaspoons or so provide flavor depth (umami) that can transport a dish from humdrum to yum!
Serves 3 to 4
1/ 3 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoon Madras-style curry powder
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno chili pepper, preferably red for color, with or without seeds, or 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
1/ 4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1 1/ 2 cups canned, organic unsweetened coconut milk (one 14-ounce can), stirred to smooth
2 teaspoons nam pla (bottled fish sauce)
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled, tails intact
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 thin scallions, white bottoms and thick green tops trimmed off, scallions cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths then lengthwise into slivers, for garnish
1. Toast the coconut flakes in an ungreased skillet over medium-high heat, or in a 350 degree F oven, or in a microwave oven until crisp and beginning to turn golden, about 4 minutes for any method. Set aside.
2. Place the oil and coriander seeds in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the seeds begin to sizzle. Add the garlic and cook until beginning to wilt, 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder, ginger, jalapeno, and cilantro. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce, stir again, and bring to a boil still over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook just until the shrimp are pink and barely firm, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the lime juice, garnish with the scallion slivers and toasted coconut, and serve.