Saturday, January 19, 2013

Burmese Shrimp Curry

I received Naomi Duguid's cookbook Burma: Rivers of Flavor for Christmas and finally got a chance to break into it tonight. 

I fell in love with Burmese food on our first trip to Rangoon Restaurant. Favourite dishes include the mohinga (fish noodle soup) and green tea leaf salad, and if you're in Ottawa I strongly recommend giving the place a shot. There are two recipes in the book for mohinga, but unfortunately I haven't been able to stock my kitchen with the more obscure ingredients for Burmese cuisine, so I decided to start simple and small until I can, with a shrimp curry. As an added bonus the leftovers can be used to make a cold, spicy shrimp soup the next day.

The only other Burmese food I've ever cooked was a duck egg curry. It was straightforward and easy to achieve authentic flavour - very forgiving, so I was interested to see if the recipes in this book followed suit.

There were only a few ingredients to this curry (well, as far as curries go), and it came together quickly, so I did what you're supposed to do and set myself up, mise en place style. Well, except for my fish sauce, but that was quick and easy to grab once I realized it was time.
As I was preparing the curry I had some itty bitty bok choy steaming away over some jasmine rice, because without side dishes I'd probably eat the whole thing in one sitting. If I ate the whole thing in one sitting I couldn't have cold shrimp soup tomorrow. That would be sad.

Like the egg curry, this came together quickly, the flavour is distinctly Burmese and the ingredients are relatively common. I served it up with a side of jasmine rice with crispy shallots and the bok choy as a side.

Shrimp Curry: 
Generous one pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 teaspoons neutral oil (recipe calls for 3 Tbsp, but I reduced it without trouble)
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 cups chopped ripe tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced, or to taste (I used bird's eye)
About 1/4 cup coriander leaves (optional, for garnish)
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional, for garnish)

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric and stir before adding the shallots and garlic. Stir and cook until they're translucent, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a medium boil, reduce heat and cook until tomatoes are soft.

Add the water and fish sauce, increase the heat to medium and add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are just turning pink, then add chiles and season with up to 1/2 tsp salt. As soon as the shrimp are cooked, remove from heat and turn out into a bowl or bowls. Garnish with coriander leaves. I also added some crispy shallots to bring it together with the rice. Serve with lime wedges to tie the flavours together and for purposes of fanciness.