How can something be subtle and powerful at the same time? That is the question I’ve been asking myself as I have been working with this wonderful purple basil that I’ve bought at the Union Square Greenmarket a couple times lately. On this occasion, I decided to make it a part of my green curry with seafood. Would it be able to stand up to Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk and make its presence felt?
Oh yeah. I decided to include the basil in two ways, and it definitely made a difference. I took half the leaves and tore them roughly and put them into the curry as it cooked. Then I used the other half as a garnish when I plated the curry. Just that much was enough to make me say, “mmmm, what is that new flavor?” And of course it was the basil.
The other thing I do differently with my curry has to do with the broth/sauce. I begin by sauteing first the scallops and then the shrimps in the pan with a little olive oil or margarine. The seafood leaves behind a wonderful essence which then becomes the base for the sauce. Later, after I have cooked the onions and pepper in the essence and added the curry paste, I will add the coconut milk. But when I have added the rest of the vegetables, there won’t be enough liquid to cook and cover all the veggies. I could add more coconut milk, but my solution is to add chicken broth – just enough to mostly cover the vegetables. The resulting curry broth is almost like a soup base, rich but light, dancing with the combined flavors of seafood essence, chicken broth, coconut milk and oh yes, basil.
I love this way of making green curry – in fact, now that I have done it this way a few times, I can’t imagine doing it any other way!
Green Curry with Seafood
(makes 6 servings)
1 pound, uncooked scallops
1 pound, uncooked large shrimps
1-2 tbsp. olive oil or margarine
1 medium to large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1 medium to large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
8 crimini mushrooms, brushed off, caps removed and quartered
6 to 8 white eggplants, roughly peeled and cut into quarters
2 dozen purple basil leaves
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
½ – 1 cup, chicken broth
2 tbsp. green curry paste
I know that there is a considerable amount of preparation for a dish like this. But after getting all these lovely vegetables fresh from the green market, I had to use them! This is where a willing spouse or energetic youngster comes in handy. In my case, I had the former close by – my wife always asks me how she can help, and usually I tell her to relax, but this time I took her up on her offer. And she did a great job of slicing and peeling and chopping!
Beautiful, right? Before I proceed, I should say just a thing or two about these white eggplants. I love eggplants, and one of the things I love is how many different shapes and colors and sizes they come in! So I try to take the opportunity to buy some of the different ones, and use them in dishes (after all, eggplants are really good for you). But, if all you have available are the monster aubergine eggplants where you are, use those. Chop them into 1-inch squares and go for it.
OK. So as I said earlier, start with the seafood. Take your shrimps out of their shelves – I even like to remove the tails, but if you like the tails on, then leave them on. Put a large skillet on over a medium heat. Add the olive oil or margarine, and when that is hot, you’re ready to begin. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over both sides of your scallops and add them to the pan. Cook them on each side for about 3 minutes – 4 minutes if you like a little extra crust on your scallops. Put them aside on a plate.
Salt and pepper the shrimps, and add them to the pan (if your pan is looking a little dry, feel free to add another drop or two of olive oil). Cook them on each side for 2-3 minutes, until they turn tannish and curl up into little shrimp curls. Put those aside as well.
Now add your onions and cook them in the essence for a couple of minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for another minute or two. Add the curry paste and stir to make sure all the vegetables are covered with it. Cook, stirring, for another minute or two.
Now add the coconut milk and stir to get it well mixed with the curry paste and vegetables. Add the zucchini, mushroom and eggplant, and here is where the chicken broth comes in. Add just enough of the broth to bring the level of the liquid up so it nearly covers all the vegetables. Turn up the heat to get the liquid bubbling, and then turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.
Tear your basil leaves roughly in half. Take the lid off the pan and add half the basil leaves. Stir them in and let it cook for a minute or two (if the zucchini is still too al dente, you can let the curry cook for even longer – just don’t cook it so long that the vegetables get mushy). The last step is to add the seafood back to the pot, give it a good stir, let it heat the seafood for a minute or two, and you’re done!
Of course, you can eat this dish over rice or noodles. But we like to eat it all by itself, almost like a thick soup. Oh, that broth is to die for. Hope you like it as much as we do!