I’m a pretty good cook, but there is something about Thai food that’s always seemed complicated and exotic to me. That’s why I LOVE this book : Quick & Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott, (Chronicle Books, 2004). Nancie was kind enough to let me re-print one of my favorite recipes, which is a perfect mixture of the tastes I’m drawn to over and over again; tropical fruit, searing chilis, seafood, and Thai spices. I photographed some of the steps along with my final version of the dish to illustrate the process. Luckily the recipe was truly quick and easy because I wasn’t about to wait. I inhaled this entire dish immediately after taking these photos.

Red Curry Shrimp With Pineapple : Gaeng Kua Goong Sapparote

Nancie says, “This pleasing curry goes together in a few minutes’ time. Follow this as a guideline for making a curry with seafood or fish and any curry paste you like. The base for gaeng kua is a red curry paste made without the roasted cumin, coriander, and other spices ground into the standard red curry paste. Wild lime leaves are traditional, but if you cannot find them, you will still have a wonderful dish. Fresh pineapple is lovely, but canned pineapple works fine, too. With jasmine rice, nests of thin rice noodles or angel hair pasta, and a green salad, this makes an elegant little meal.”

Ingredients:

1½ cups unsweetened coconut milk ( I use light.)
2 tablespoons gaeng kua curry paste or red curry paste
½ cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup drained canned pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple or bite-sized chunks fresh pineapple
6 wild lime leaves, quartered (optional)
¾ pound large shrimp
1/3 cup fresh Asian or Italian basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish
Directions

In a medium skillet or saucepan, heat ½ cup of the coconut milk over medium-high heat, stirring often, until thickened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the curry paste and cook a minute or two, pressing and stirring to dissolve it.

Stir in remaining 1 cup coconut milk, the water, fish sauce, sugar, pineapple, and lime leaves (if using), and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the shrimp and basil leaves and cook another minute or two, just until shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with fresh basil sprigs, and serve hot or warm.

Yield : Serves 4.

Clean and peel the shrimp.

If you are using a fresh pineapple remove the peel and then cut it into chunks.

Simmer the ingredients a few minutes until the shrimp turn pink. These aren’t ready yet.

Prepare the rice noodles according to the package directions.