Red Curry Shrimp Supreme
This just happens to be the 100th post on FotoCuisine.com. It also happens to use some ingredients given to us by our favorite foodie friends, Jenn and Roberto, from The Leftover Queen during their visit with us recently. Jenn has some friends who send her spices from all over the world, and when Jenn and Roberto visited us, she gave me a sample stash from her larger stash. Most of the spices seemed to originate from the Indonesian area of the world, and even in storage, their fragrance is still amazing every time I open the cabinet door!
I wanted to make a red curry shrimp, but I fusioned it with some French techniques. I actually have some homemade coconut milk, but instead, I decided to make a sauce supreme (basically a velouté with cream) infused with red curry powder. In a sense, it's like the cream Cajun or Mexican sauces common in American restaurants -- stock, spices, cream, and roux -- with a subcontinent/southern-Asian inspiration.
The amount and variety of spices Jenn gave us was just amazing. Leaves, powders, blends... just a wonderful aroma. In a historical sense, from this small sampling, it is understandable how much the spice trade has changed and influenced Western history. In less empathic times, who wouldn't want to subjugate the world to control the distribution of these flavors?
I used two specific powders -- a red curry powder blend for the sauce, and a red chile powder essence for sautéing the shrimp.
I thinly sliced a half-pound of white mushrooms and lightly sautéed them in a couple tablespoons of butter. I reserved them off to the side.
I took 1/2 cup of shrimp stock and combined with 1/2 cup of white wine (a pinot grigio) and simmered over medium heat. When simmering nicely, I added some roux I made (equal parts flour and butter sizzled together until fragrant), about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons, until the stock/wine mixture thickened almost like a gravy. This is a basic velouté with wine. I added about 1/3 cup of heavy cream and a tablespoon of the red curry powder (I sampled it first to figure this out -- curry powders and pastes differ from recipe to recipe and a lot of this is experimentation and personal taste). This sauce was left to simmer very, very gently on low heat, literally on the back burner.
Meanwhile, I mixed a couple teaspoons of kosher salt with the red pepper mixture and some cracked black pepper, and dusted a bunch of shrimp (a pound before shelling/deveining).
I heated the pan over medium-high again and added another couple tablespoons of butter. I seared the shrimp on both sides very quickly, just a little pink to the raw-blueness of most kinds of shrimp. The center was still very raw, and that's what I wanted for this stage.
I turned the heat to low/simmer, added the mushrooms in again, then poured the red curry supreme sauce over the shrimp.
The shrimp and sauce would simmer very gently, just a slight bubble-bubble-bubble, for about five more minutes until the shrimp were slowly cooked through. I squirted a lemon over the top for some brightness, then added some freshly chopped scallions. Plating was shrimp and sauce over rice, with some fresh scallions over the top.
Deconstruction: The two main spices I chose from Jenn's stash were both powdered, in a ziplock bag. I almost can't understand how these spices were a bazillion times more flavorful than spices in a jar, except (of course) they were directly from the source, even if removed by a step or two. No mass production industry here, this is from a local source. I specifically wanted to do a southeast-Asian flair to French techniques with this dish -- not because the French blow away southeast Asia, but just to push the limits of fusion cuisine a bit with fresh ingredients. This was a seriously tasty meal. It's one of the few curries I've had where I could taste the complexity of the blend of spices, not just heat and fat and protein.