Shrimp with Coconut Coriander Broth

Let’s talk about pantry staples.

What’s up in your kitchen cabinets? You know, the things you need to have around for meals you make on the regular. Or stuff you like to have for when you’re in a pinch. (Ain’t no shame in some store-bought soup, people.)

For me olive oil, garlic and onions are the base of every great meal ever, so I must have those. A variety of grains, rice, pasta, nuts, seeds and beans are the norm too. Vegetable broth is excellent to have on-hand and a seriously decked out spice drawer keeps me feeling secure.

I  start to get uneasy if my canned tomato supply dips below 3 cans, I always have coconut milk for everything from curries to stirring in oatmeal, and frozen uncooked shrimp in the freezer is a great standby.

Having a well-stocked freezer and pantry is like an insurance policy on future good meals. When I’m tired and hungry or just feeling uninspired, the pantry is totally my secret weapon.

This dish is kind of my ideal pantry meal – it’s a bunch of my old cabinet-dwelling favorites thrown together and looking good.

The broth comes together easily – it’s packed with warming spices and rich coconut milk and is balanced out by light vegetable broth, fresh coriander and sweet prawns.

Shrimp with Coconut Coriander Broth
adapted from Food & Wine

I should mention coriander is cilantro and cilantro is coriander. Another Aus-American language discrepancy for the list!

– 2 tablespoons oil
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 1/2 a large red bell pepper (or 1 small one), finely diced.
– 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
– 2 tablespoons ground coriander
– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
– 1 cup drained whole canned tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch/1-cm pieces
– 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 15-oz./400-gram can)
– 1 cup vegetable broth
– 1/2 cup water
– salt
– 1 pound/1/2 kilogram large shrimp, shelled and de-veined
– 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander, with a little bit of the stems finely chopped

In a large pot or frying pan, heat the oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently – until golden, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the ground coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, broth, water, and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the pot and bring the broth to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped coriander. Serve immediately.


Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup

It’s been a grey and rainy week. I’ve been caught in the rain three mornings in a row trying to go for a run. My umbrella’s all bent out of shape. I don’t want to leave the house.

What’s your favorite rainy evening ritual? Mine looks like sweat pants, bad tv (wuttup Revenge), a glass of red and a curry.

I don’t love the rain, but I don’t mind the excuse it gives me to get cozy, make something warm, and treat myself right.

I was impressed with this recipe for 2 reasons:
It develops a rich Thai flavor in less than a half an hour – if you’re craving a Thai red curry, this is probably a quicker bet than delivery.
It’s also easily adaptable for whatever vegetables you have at home. Asian veggies like bok choy, baby corn and snow peas are all at home here, but mushrooms, green beans, carrots, spinach and even sweet potato are all welcome too.

Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup
adapted from Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf
(makes 4 serves)

– 2 tablespoons oil
– 2 tablespoons red curry paste
– 4 spring onions, light green and white parts thinly chopped
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 2 cups coconut cream
– 1 cup red lentils
– 1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half
– 2 cups spinach, chopped

Heat the oil and curry paste in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add in spring onions and cook 1 minute.

Add stock, coconut cream and lentils and cook for 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add snow peas and cover, simmering for 2 more minutes.

Stir in spinach and let it wilt down. Serve hot with rice or grilled flat bread.