I have really been crazy for Asian curry soups lately. Recently I posted about a Thai Curry Chicken Noodle Soup, and now here I am again with a Vietnamese-style Shrimp Mango Curry with Tamarind & Mint. Both dishes contain fresh ginger, shallots, coriander and fish sauce, but the Thai Curry was flavored with guajillo chiles, garlic, palm sugar and lime juice, while this Shrimp Curry has the wonderful flavors of tamarind and lemongrass that give it its distinctive sweet citrus taste.
The tamarind comes in a pliable block which you can get at Asian and Indian markets.
The tamarind is mixed with hot water, mashed until the pulp has softened and then forced through a fine mesh sieve to remove the solids.
The lemongrass is peeled, sliced and minced, then simmered with coconut milk, shrimp shells and the tamarind puree. The liquid is squeezed out of the shells and reserved.
To make the spice paste, the shallot, ginger, chile, coriander, turmeric, fish sauce, oil and water are pureed in a mini processor. This paste is then cooked in a small skillet until slightly darkened and finally added to the coconut milk mixture. The shrimp, onion and bell pepper are sautéed and added to the coconut milk, with the mango, cilantro, mint and basil stirred in just before serving.
This is one of those dishes where you put a spoonful in your mouth and you just have to go Mmmmm. So delicious.
Shrimp Mango Curry with Tamarind & Mint
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons tamarind (from a pliable block)
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, well-stirred
1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells reserved
½ cup water
2 tablespoons minced shallot (from 1 large)
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 2-inch knob)
2 teaspoons minced seeded fresh red chile (from a 4-inch chile)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed or 1 teaspoon ground
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese nuoc mam)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon peanut oil
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
1 red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
1 (1-to 1 ½-pound) firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into ¾-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Accompaniment: Steamed white rice, if desired
Small sauce pan
Fine mesh sieve
1 ½ quart sauce pan
Mini processor or blender
Dutch oven or deep 12-inch heavy skillet
1. Heat ¼ cup water in microwave or small saucepan until hot and transfer to a small bowl. Add tamarind and stir, mashing gently with a fork, until pulp is softened and has the consistency of tomato sauce. Force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids with a large metal spoon. Be sure to scrape all puree off bottom of sieve. Discard solids.
2. Discard 2 or 3 tough outer layers from lemongrass. Trim root ends and mince enough of bottom third of stalks to measure 3 tablespoons.
3. Simmer minced lemongrass, coconut milk, tamarind puree and shrimp shells in a 1 ½-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, until reduced by one third, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a colander into a large bowl, pressing on solids. Cool. Pour the ½ cup water over shrimp shells. Pick up handfuls of shells and squeeze out as much liquid as possible through colander into bowl. Discard shells.
4. Puree shallot, ginger, red chile, coriander, white pepper, turmeric, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a mini processor or blender until smooth.
5. Cook spice paste in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, 10 minutes. Do not walk away or it will burn. Whisk into coconut milk mixture in large bowl.
6. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté shrimp, stirring, until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp to coconut milk mixture in large bowl.
7. Heat remaining tablespoon peanut oil in a large Dutch oven and reduce heat to moderate. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring, until onion and pepper are softened, about 3 minutes.
8. Add coconut milk mixture, shrimp and 1 tablespoon fish sauce to vegetables in Dutch oven. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add additional fish sauce to taste.
9. Remove from heat. Stir in mango and herbs just before serving. Serve with white rice if desired.