I don’t like shrimp. I’m not allergic to it, I just don’t like the taste and texture. The only time I can eat shrimp is when it’s completely disguised as something else, like tempura. Oh, and shrimp cocktail. I can eat that. Any other shrimp dish you put in front of me just ends up in the doggy dish.
But last Saturday, as I was walking around the weekend market, I chose to look out for something other than our usual purchases and ended up with a half a kilo of shrimp. I try not to be a selfish cook so I surrendered to the idea of having to ingest my least favorite seafood. There’s always a can of tuna in the pantry, in case things don’t go well. At home, I had a few stalks of lemongrass so it seemed like it was the perfect time to make curry paste. So shrimp curry it was.
I combined some coriander, garlic, green chillies, ginger, red onion, and lemongrass in a food processor hoping that this would quickly give me a green curry paste. The result was nothing paste-like but more like a mirepoix of some sort. I had a feeling that this wouldn’t hold as my curry’s base so I pulled out some green curry paste just in case.
Although I don’t eat shrimp. I know better than to throw it’s head and shells away. So I gathered all the heads and shells, fired up a small pot and made some shrimp stock. With this, I added some of my lemongrass mirepoix and within a few minutes, the kitchen was filled with a wonderful aroma, very reminiscent of tinolang manok. The result was a flavorful stock that, if combined with some tom yum powder, would have been the perfect soup dish. But we’ll save that for another day.
In a separate pot, I sauteed what was left of my lemongrass mirepoix with a little oil. 5 minutes later, I added my sliced eggplant, shrimp stock, 1/2 cup of coconut milk and about 3 tablespoons of the green curry paste. On a low flame, I allowed this mixture to simmer until the eggplant was cooked. I noticed that when you stew eggplant long enough, the meat separates from the skin and actually acts as a thickening agent. I personally like this but some people might prefer the eggplant not overcooked.
After simmering for about 20 minutes, add some chopped cauliflower and the shelled shrimp. Boil for no more than 2 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink. Overcooking your shrimp will make it turn rubbery so be careful. Turn the heat off and add about a cup of basil leaves into the curry. It will add a nice, fresh flavor to a very spicy dish.
Serve it with a side dish of pickled cucumbers.
If you’re wondering if I ate the shrimp curry, I did. I took one bite of the succulent shrimp and then almost instantly started fishing for the shrimp in my bowl, knowing that there’s was no way I could eat it. The sauce was delicious, but there’s just no way I could take the shrimp without gagging. Sorry, food. I was still happy with just the curry sauce, eggplant and cauliflower but I think Mike was secretly ecstatic that he had all the shrimp to himself.