This is a wonderful recipe inspired by some of my favorite Thai cuisine. The red curry paste packs a sucker-punch, so use it sparingly until you know how spicy it is. The addition of turmeric will intensify the color of the dish. If you cannot find lemongrass, don’t worry. The paste already has it. Adding fresh lemongrass will simply provide a more vibrant, complex flavor — remove it before serving as it is tough and will not break down.
Note that the preparation is layered in stages so the tender vegetables go in at the end — this ensures that they don’t overcook.
Enjoy, this is one of my all-time favorites.
2 tbs. peanut oil
20 small shrimp, deveined
2 heaping tbs. red curry paste (or more to taste)
1 medium shallot, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass; trim, peel and keep only 8″ of the tender base. Crush with a meat mallet and then cut in half.
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced
1.5 tsp. ground turmeric
4 cups chicken stock
1 13-oz. can coconut milk, shaken
4 Thai birds-eye hot chilies, crushed (to taste)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly-sliced
1 small bunch bok choy, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped (base and greens divided)
1 tbs. brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
2 tbs. fish sauce
3 tbs. dark soy sauce
1/3 of a 14-oz. package of Asian rice vermicelli noodles
Handful of snap peas – about 10
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced at a bias, with greens
1 cup trimmed cilantro leaves
Cut, measure and prepare the ingredients prior to cooking so you have everything at hand. Thai cuisine is known for its short cooking time.
Prepare the Asian vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Break them in half and cook until just al dente – about five minutes. Drain and reserve, covered.
While you are preparing the noodles, place a 3.5-quart heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the peanut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and saute for two minutes until pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the red curry paste and minced shallot to the pot. Stir constantly until fragrant; about a minute. Watch closely so it doesn’t scorch. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms and the grated ginger. Continue stirring for two minutes.
Next, add the chicken stock and increase the heat to a rolling boil. Add the turmeric, brown sugar and coconut milk. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, jalapenos and the white part of the bok choy. Reserve the bok choy greens for later. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
Add the lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and crushed birds-eye chili. Cook for seven to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, snap peas and bean sprouts at the very end. Add the prepared noodles, bok choy greens and shrimp to the pot. Stir and remove from heat. Remove and discard the lemongrass before serving.
Garnish with red onion, scallion and cilantro. Drizzle with fresh lime juice if desired.