Weeknight cooking can downgrade quickly into ordering for pizza if you’re worn out from work, children, and the world in general. That’s why I have a variety of Asian inspired recipes to fall back on, when I know my will to do much more than eat dinner (and even that might be too taxing) is waning. I always have a variety of fresh veggies on hand, as well as a knob of fresh ginger, and some sort of protein to throw into the mix. Other ingredients store well in the pantry or fridge until needed: jasmine rice, coconut milk, naam pla (Thai fish sauce), and red or green curry paste. Pour yourself a glass of wine, cut up the few veggies, slice the meat, and dinner will be on the table before you can find the pizza delivery number.
Okay, maybe not quite as quickly as that — but you’ll be happier with the healthier, tastier result in the long run. After all, ordering pizza every time you’re tired gets — tiresome.
Thai Shrimp and Spinach Curry Recipe
14 oz can unsweetened lite coconut milk (find in the Asian section in most larger grocery stores)
Note: For this recipe, you’ll need to separate the cream from the milk. This is easily accomplished by putting the can in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight. If you forget, you can put it in the freezer while you’re prepping the veggies.
1 T Thai green or red curry paste
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T naam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly at an angle
about 6-8 mini bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced into strips
1 cup sweet white wine, such as Chenin Blanc
3/4 lb fresh spinach, large stems removed
Note: I buy a large clamshell of pre-washed spinach every week or so to use in a variety of recipes. You may also buy bulk and wash well at home, but I’ve found a one pound box of spinach gets used up quickly, and is a simple way to bolster your meals with Vitamins A, B2, C, and K, as well as a handful of minerals and antioxidants. It’s a green health machine!
3 T cilantro, chopped
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the thickened coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk.
Cook the cream in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until the cream has slightly thickened. Add curry paste and whisk for 1 minute.
Increase heat to medium-high and add shrimp, sautéing for 2 minutes, or until they turn pink. Remove shrimp to a clean bowl.
Add coconut milk and naam pla to the skillet and bring to simmer. Add carrots, bell peppers, and wine, simmering for 5 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, stirring until wilted. Return shrimp and any collected juices to skillet, stirring to incorporate into the sauce.
Serve curry with jasmine rice, sprinkled with cilantro.
Stephanie Davis, better known as The Wine Heroine . . . and aspiring wine celebrity from Winacea, is a Certified Wine Educator who knows what she’s talking about. I’ve dined with her often, and her wine selections are spot on. She thinks that a glass of France’s sweet style Chenin Blanc from the Coteaux du Layon subregion of the Loire Valley would definitely tell this shrimp dish, “Bon appetit!” She says Chenin Blanc is made in many different styles, ranging from dry to sweet, and even sparkling. The Coteaux du Layon style is sweet and complex, with terrific zing. Although not easy to find, it’s worth asking for at your local wine shop, especially if you have a thing for sweet wines. She found this particular producer, Baumard, in her town for $25.
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Award-winning author Emily Kemme writes about human nature, because living brings its own humor, angst and heroism. Follow her on her blog, Feeding the Famished, or https://www.facebook.com/EmilyKemme where she hopes you’ll find illumination of the everyday in a way that highlights its brilliance. Vodka and recipes optional.