Curry in a Hurry

Weeknights. School nights. Late nights. Busy nights.

Whatever you call them, it is sometimes hard to come home on these days and cook a meal, whether it's for your family, main squeeze, friends, or even just yourself.

I am the kind of person who doesn't compromise for dinner. If I am not in the mood to cook (like that has ever happened), I would never simply have a bowl of cereal, or chips and salsa, or a pint of ice cream. I always want a real meal.

Stir-fry - the method we were all taught in college to make a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal with no fuss - is the perfect go-to cooking style when you want something good, but were late from the office, tired from taking care of too many people during the day, or just didn't feel like it.

Today's Thai-inspired shrimp curry is a perfect example of a stir-fry that takes just minutes if you have all the ingredients. And, if I didn't have all the ingredients, ... punt!

No peppers? Use celery, carrots, and bok choy. No onions? Shallots or scallions would do. No homemade curry paste? That's easy - you should always keep a jar of prepared curry paste (purchased or homemade) in your fridge or freezer. And, while we are at it, we always keep frozen shrimp on hand, too - they thaw fast, making this a really quick meal. (And we save the shrimp shells, along with bits and pieces of onion and shallot, in a freezer bag to make shrimp stock.)

We generally serve our stir-fries with rice, but it isn't necessary. The flavors by themselves are all we really crave, along with a soup spoon to get every last bit of the broth.

And, even though chopsticks aren't generally used in Thailand, I have started using them, as they force me to eat a little slower...

Happy stirring!

Shrimp and Peppers in Thai Red Curry Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large white onion, sliced pole to pole
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 inch-long piece ginger, julienned
1 tablespoon fish sauce or salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (purchased or recipe here)
3 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
jasmine or basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
1 pound small-to-medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
ΒΌ cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, quartered

Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium high heat. Add onions, peppers, and ginger. Stir fry until tender-crisp.

Add fish sauce and curry paste to vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until curry paste is dissolved and fragrant - about 1 minute. Add kaffir lime leaves, pour in coconut milk and bring to a boil.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper, and add to pan. Spoon vegetables and sauce on top of shrimp. Turn heat down to an active simmer. Cook 2 minutes on each side, depending on size. Shrimp are done when they are a light pink and opaque all the way through.

Serve immediately with rice, a sprinkle of cilantro, and wedges of lime.

Serves 2-4. 

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