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shrimp with red curry paste and coconut milk

does this recipe sound any good:

1 (14 oz.) can Coconut Milk (Regular or Lite), (divided)
1 1⁄2 Tbs. Red Curry Paste
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, minced
1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and d eveined
2 Tbs. Fish Sauce
1⁄4 cup basil, chopped
Thai Kitchen Jasmine Rice
Optional garnishes: sprigs of fresh basil and red chilies, thinly sliced

In a wok or heavy skillet heat half a can of the coconut milk. Stir in red curry paste and cook until well blended. Add the remaining coconut milk, brown sugar and kaffir lime leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook until shrimp are orange-pink in color, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and chopped basil. Place on a serving platter and garnish with sprigs of fresh basil and red chilies. Serve with cooked Jasmine Rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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  1. I'm not sure about the brown sugar....hmmm. I think that the fat of the coconut milk will offset the heat of the curry paste.
    I'd also think about a bit of peanut butter in the sauce, and some chopped peanuts to garnish.


    1. I make something very similar and it's excellent so I'm sure this will be fine.

      I take coconut cream and melt it in a skillet. Add red curry paste (A generous half cup) and fry together for a couple of minutes. Add a can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add about a pound of fish (use shrimp instead) and a few cups of oriental mix, mixed veggies. Serve over basmati (use jasmine instead) and it's fantastic.
      Kick it up a notch with sriracha if you like.


      1 Reply
      1. Yeah, I'd forego the brown sugar, too. The coconut milk will add enough sweetness/richness. I think the curry paste is not enough, though the more you use, the spicier it will get (I happen to like that). Also, I usually add quite a splash of fresh lime juice, but I like my curries to have a sour zing. I'd also use Thai basil, if you can find it. It makes a great difference, but do add it at the very last minute. That stuff wilts in no time.

        1. i disagree about the brown sugar. coconut milk is not sweet, unless ur using the stuff for pina coldas. thai food is all about balancing sweet sour hot and salt

          palm sugar would be more traditional.. but sweet is needed

          1 Reply
          1. re: thew

            You are absolutely right.

            Most traditional recipes call for at least some palm sugar, but that can be hard to find for some people.

            I would not add peanut butter .

            If you hit it with lime juice do so at the very end.

            Cilantro would also be a good addition or garnish.

          2. I agree with frying the curry paste in the coconut cream (not half can of coconut). Generally, the cream portion tends to be about the top 30% of the can. As curry pastes taste different, I would first taste it before adding your sugar and fish sauce. I also like to add some lime in it. And palm sugar is traditional, but brown sugar will work in a pinch. And add holy basil at the end.

            Not sure about the peanut butter in the sauce, though.

            1. Hi eLizard,
              The brand of coconut milk you use is *very* important. I recommend two brands from Thailand: Chao Koh (Island People) and Mae Ploy. Don't shake the can like it suggests, but instead use the cream which floats to the top to fry the paste. If you want Thai taste, you'll need about 2-3x that amount of curry paste.

              Don't follow the directions about boiling the paste. Fry the cream until it cracks (you'll see oil separating) then add the paste. Fry (and stir well) on medium heat until you sneeze and it smells good - about 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime leaves, etc. Taste it. You may need to add a bit of sugar, start with 1 teaspoon and add it a tea at a time. You may need to add a bit more fish sauce too.

              When it tastes good, add the shrimp. Cook just until done and take off heat. Add the basil and serve.

              Also, coconut milk from a can sometimes is very thick. If it's too thick, feel free to thin out the curry a bit with 1/4-1/2 can's worth of water.

              And.. it doesn't matter what brand of Jasmine Rice you use. :P

              2 Replies
              1. re: cee

                Thanks! Do you know if the brands you suggest are readily available in the U.S. markets? I do have a ton of asian groceries near me, though, if need be. Love the suggestion to fry until I sneeze!

                1. re: eLizard

                  Those two brands are available in Asian markets. I used to buy them when I lived in the US. Absolutely worth the trip to get the better coconut milk. And while you're there, you can get the lime leaves, thai basil and curry paste.

              2. The recipe is a classic, and is absolutely delicious. As noted, though, a few tweaks may be in order.

                Definitely fry the curry paste before adding other ingredients. The coconut cream is ideal, but if you're using "light" coconut milk, you might not have enough (or any) cream to work with. Just use cooking oil instead.

                I'd keep the sugar. Maybe start with a little less and adjust to taste, but a sweet component is important to the flavor of this dish. You may also want to adjust the amount of fish sauce and curry paste.

                As to the curry paste, the kind you use makes a big difference. Based on the brand-name rice recommendation, I suspect you got the recipe off the back of a bottle of Thai Kitchen curry paste, which is available in most US supermarkets. It's not terrible, but it isn't the best stuff out there, either. Once you've used it up, try a tub of Mae Ploy. Others may have recommendations as to other brands, but that's my favorite, and is available in most Asian groceries.

                1. Sounds good. I make something similar adding butternut squash and mango. Be wary of the more curry paste! exhortations. The hotness varies a lot between brands -- thai kitchen tends to be very hot and concentrated -- I bought another type recently and needed an entire jar for even a little flavor.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Amuse Bouches

                    Yeah. I made this recipe using the jar of red curry paste. It was so hot it was almost inedible, and I am usually good with spicy food. (I swear :)

                  2. AThai chef once told me that when you cook anything with coconut milk, it should be added at the last minute and make sure it does not boil! He said it will ruin the consistency of the coconut milk. If you use coconut cream then it may be different.

                    As for brown sugar, it is important actually to have sugar with chili because the complement each other. The purpose of the sugar is not to offset the heat of the chili but rather accentuates it! The coconut milk will serve the purpose of offsetting the heat.

                    1. I do one very much like this with a few changes/additions.1st, more curry paste. Trad Thai red curry has some fire, and you need at least 2-3 times this amount to get it right. 2nd, I add 1"squares of red bell pepper before the shrimp so that they are warm and just ever so slightly cooked. Next, use Thai basil and add cilantro as a garnish along with a squeeze of lime juice.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chazzerking

                        I also add red pepper to my red curry as well (and other veggies to make it healthier).

                        I also think the best ready-made curry pastes are Nittaya. I know so many cookbook authors think Mae Ploy are acceptable. I find it too salty and without any depth of flavor. They do sell Nittaya by mail order. It will keep for a while in the freezer.

                      2. I would add the juice of 1 or 2 limes, some chopped ginger, and some chopped garlic...also, i'd recommend mixing all the ingredients first, letting the shrimp marinate for an hour or two, and then grilling or stir frying the shrimp separately. then i would use the remaining sauce and boil it for a couple minutes and pour it on top of the shrimp.