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~ Thai Yellow Curry w/Shrimp, Scallops & Pineapple~

IMG_8930This happens to me every Summer:  By the end of June, I need to step away from marinades, dry spice rubs, barbecue and steak sauces, and, grilled food in general for a couple of days. Yesterday, I roasted a chicken and served it with some freshly-steamed broccoli, cauliflower, rice and gravy. "Winner, winner, comforting chicken dinner!"  It was just what the doctor ordered. Today's change-of-pace prescription is for a party in my mouth.  I making a Thai yellow curry!

Thai curry ("gaeng" being the Thai word for Thai curry) is not the same as Indian curry.  "Karee" is the Thai word for "curry in the style of India" ("kari" being the Indian word for "sauce").  

IMG_8913Unlike Indian curries, Thai cooks simmer their curries for a much shorter period of time and use a much bigger ratio of fresh ingredients and herbs to dry spices or spice blends, which get pulverized to paste form (curry paste).  The only two curry dishes in Thailand that are based upon dried herbs and spices are Massaman and Panang curry, and, those are not my focus today. Curry is a staple dish in Thailand, and, in many homes it is eaten on a daily basis and made from ingredients growing around the house.  It typically contains less protein than we Westerners (including me) often add to it, and, served over rice, it is an economical, healthy part of the Thai diet.  There are countless Thai curry dishes and recipes, and, they are culinarily unique because there is nothing identical to them anywhere on the world's table!

The starting point for every Thai curry is curry paste:

IMG_8753A bit about the three Thai curry pastes and curries in general:  Thai cooking is all about balancing hot, sour, sweet and salty. In Thai cuisine there are three curry pastes which are identified by color:  green, red and yellow. To learn about their similarities and differences, read my post ~ Demystifying Thai Curries: Green, Red & Yellow ~ in Categories 8, 13, 15 or 16! 

PICT0047Thai curries range from soupy to slightly stewlike and are served with or ladled over steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles. They all contain a protein of choice: chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu or duck.  They all contain fruits and/or vegetables too. Here are the most common examples:  bell peppers, broccoli, Thai eggplant (not our American eggplant), green onion, mango, pineapple, pumpkin or squash.  It's common for any curry to contain or be garnished with Thai basil or cilantro and/or chopped or whole, toasted peanuts or cashews...

IMG_8789... which, in true Thai-syle are stir-fried.

In a small stir-fry-type pan, place:

2  tablespoons sesame oil

2  cups whole, unsalted cashews or peanuts

Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a large slotted spoon, stir-fry until the nuts are golden brown.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool!

IMG_8954Curry pastes are traditionally made from scratch in the Thai home kitchen using a mortar and pestle to pulverize the ingredients, which extracts the essential oils and fully develops the flavors. Let me suffice it to say, a food processor or a blender is not a viable substitue for this ancient tool.  I do have my own recipes for making Thai curry pastes the traditional way, and, I promise to post them in the future!

Nowadays, most busy cooks (Thai cooks included) just purchase high-quality curry paste from their Asian market.  That being said, savvy modern cooks and Thai cooks add a few things to their store-bought curry to brighten up and personalize the flavor, which is what I'm doing today, and, I love the flavor of mild, creamy yellow curry combined with delicate white fish or seafood!

IMG_8978Try some Thai:  Yellow Pineapple Curry w/Shrimp & Scallops!

IMG_87992  tablespoons sesame oil

6  tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste (1, 4-ounce can)

1  cup very-thinly sliced green onion, white and light green part only

1  tablespoon minced, fresh ginger

2  13 1/2-ounce cans coconut milk, well shaken (Note:  Shake can to mix the coconut milk.)

1  8-ounce can crushed pineapple, in 100% pineapple juice

1  tablespoon fish sauce, preferably Squid brand

3  tablespoons Thai seasoning soy sauce, preferably Golden Mountain brand

1  tablespoon palm sugar (light brown sugar may be substituted)

4  kaffir lime leaves

2  cups chunked fresh (not canned) pineapple chunks

1  cup baby corn 

8  cups steamed jasmine rice (4 cups uncooked rice) (1 1/4 cups steamed rice per person)

2  cups stir-fried cashews, prepared as directed above, for accompaniment and garnish 

6  tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves, or, 6 cilantro sprigs, for garnish

IMG_8381 IMG_8387~ Step 1.  Portion and prep the seafood:

24-30 extra-jumbo shrimp (16-20 count), peeled & deveined, tails on (4-5 shrimp per person)

12-18 large sea scallops (2-3 scallops per person)

IMG_8778 IMG_8180~ Step 2.  In an electric rice steamer, steam rice according to the package directions. When rice is finished, rake through it, to separate the grains.  Allow to remain in "keep warm" setting until serving time.

IMG_8815 IMG_8808~ Step 3.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, stir the sesame oil and curry paste together over low heat. When the paste begins to bubble and become fragrant, add the onion and ginger.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the vegetables begin to soften, about 1 minute.

IMG_8834 IMG_8827~ Step 4. Add the coconut milk, followed by crushed pineapple, fish sauce, soy sauce, palm sugar and lime leaves.

Stir to thoroughly combine.  Adjust heat to a gentle, but steady simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

IMG_8853Note:  Technically, it is now time to add the shrimp, scallops, pineapple and optional baby corn, but, at this point I like to turn the heat off, cover the pan, and let the curry steep for 1-2 hours or longer.  This really developes the flavor of the curry, and, what's not to like about that? You can prepare this entire meal, just short of the last 5-6 minutes of cooking several hours in advance of serving.  Remove and discard the lime leaves, return the curry to a gentle simmer and proceed with the recipe as directed below:

IMG_8882 IMG_8865~ Step 5. Add shrimp, scallops, pineapple and baby corn.  Adjust heat to a gentle, but steady simmer. Once the mixture returns to a simmer, continue to cook until the seafood is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Portion rice into each of 6 warmed serving bowls and ladle curry over the top. Garnish with cilantro and cashews:   

IMG_8945Thai Yellow Curry w/Shrimp, Scallops & Pineapple:  Recipe yields 6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  stir-fry type pan; large slotted spoon; paper towels; electric rice steamer; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides

PICT0004 PICT0042Cook's Note: To learn how to make another one of my curry recipes which I posted back in 2010 (and a big favorite of many of our Thai-eating friends, go to Categories 3 or 13 to find ~ Thai Red Pork Curry w/Steamed Jasmine Rice ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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