Monday, August 6, 2012

Shrimp and Coconut milk

Yet another lovely recipe from my lovely Mother in Law, from Guam.  This is one of my favorite summertime dishes, well anytime dish is probably more like it.    I love shrimp and so do my kids but my pocket book doesn't really like shrimp that much, so we don't eat this nearly as often as I like.  This is perfect for summer though because it requires very little cooking time and it's a one pot dish.  

serves 4 to 6 people
prep time 15 min, cooking time 20 min

2lb large shrimp (fresh or frozen)
2 cans 13.5oz  coconut milk
1 med tomato diced
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 lemon

Before we start I'd like to talk a bit about shrimp.  Shrimp can be a really beautiful thing when you use the right kind and if you don't cook it too long.  The smaller the shrimp the less flavor you will have and the less you have to cook it.  

For this dish I prefer to use Tiger shrimp because they are really big and pack tons of flavor.  They can be found in some super markets or oriental stores in the freezer section in 2 or 4lb bags. I like to use uncooked/raw shrimp because it tastes so much better.  However we don't have the best seafood selection here so sometimes all I can find is frozen precooked shrimp.  In a pinch this is still good and as long as you don't over cook it it will still be a beautiful thing.  

I also prefer to use the shrimp with the tail on and here that's usually all that's available as well.  No worries you just cook it as is with the tail on and remove the tails as you eat.  If you would like you can remove the tails before cooking after they have thawed.  

So the first step is to make sure your shrimp are thawed.  I typically place the bag in a large bowl of room temp water and let it sit until thawed.  Once they are thawed remove them from the bag and rinse to remove any extra shells or tails.  After rinsing drain them completely and set aside.   Then dice your tomatoe, onion and garlic.  

In a large pan over medium high heat saute the onions and garlic until translucent in about 2 Tablespoons of oil.  

Then add the shrimp to the pan and reduce the heat to medium, stirring constantly to keep the shrimp turned and cooking evenly for about 10- 15 minutes if they are precooked.  If they are raw they will take about 15-20 minutes to cook.  The shrimp are cooked when they have a bright pink color and seem to kind of burst open and curl up even more.  They will also start to feel firm to the touch.  

WARNING don't cook past this point or they shrimp will be chewy and dry.  

At this point turn the heat to low and add the coconut milk.  Now lets talk about coconut milk.

Coconut milk can be a bit confusing if you're not used to working with it.  There is coconut creme which is sweetened and can be used in baking and makes wonderful Pina Coladas.  Then there is coconut milk which is very liquidy and not sweet and can also be used in baking and cooking.  The important thing to remember is that the coconut creme is sweet and the coconut milk is not.  For this recipe you want coconut milk.  This can be found at any oriental store or Asian market and the oriental section of most super markets.  There are several brands and you will find that some brands have a more coconuty flavor than others.  I'm not too picky but so far this is my favorite and go to brand for this dish. 

It is also important not to over cook coconut milk.  If you get it too hot or cook it too long it will begin to loose it's flavor.  It's a delicate thing just like the shrimp.  Maybe that's why they are so good together. 

Once the heat is turned down to low add both cans of coconut milk to the pan and stir gently.  All you are doing now is warming up the coconut milk.  You do not need to bring this to a boil, just warm it up. So turn off the heat now before you add the rest of the ingredients.     

lastly add the tomatoes, salt and squeeze half of the lemon juice into the pan.  Then stir and give it a quick taste.  It should be creamy, a little salty with a tangy kick to it.  If you would like more tang then squeeze in the other half of the lemon juice.  This is the season to taste part.  Typically I like to serve this with white sticky rice and some soy sauce or Finadene (pronounced finadeni) for extra seasoning.  If you would like to know how to make Finadene see this post.  It is a must when making any Guam dish to eat it with Finadene.  It's salty, tangy and spicey goodness in a bowl.  

If you have any questions please let me know.  I make this all the time so it was actually kind of difficult to write the recipe because I normally don't use one.  As always I hope you enjoy and have a wonderful summer.


As always I'd like to give credit to my Mother in Law Linda Duran for giving me this recipe and all the love that came with it. 
For a printable recipe card click here.

For a printable recipe card click here.

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