The outstanding thing about this delicate and tasty curried shrimp dish is that all its formerly exotic ingredients can these days be found in supermarkets, or your home pantry, there to brighten a delicate, Malaysian-style coconut curry at a moment’s notice. Of the almost uncountable curry powders that stock grocery spice shelves, I chose it because my first tastes of it were from a grocery store packet a Malaysian friend brought as gift from a visit to her family home in NAME OF CITY. If you don’t have a Malaysian-style curry powder, slightly on the sweet side, a Madras curry powder in a colorful tin, is almost the same. 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 peanut or canola 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.