Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

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Growing up in New Hampshire, Thai food was just not on the radar. Today, thankfully there are a few more options around my hometown, but in the 80s/90s, the extent of ethnic food was some woefully Americanized Chinese and some slapdash Tex-Mex. I must have had my first taste of Thai sometime around grad school — I’m not quite sure — but I do know that I was instantly hooked. There’s so much to love — the rich coconut milk, spicy curries, the acidity of lime and freshness of Thai basil. I loved the variety and the different flavors you just don’t experience when you’re eating super traditional American food. Today, you could convince me to have Thai food any day.

I’ve found it’s impossible to make Thai food at home that tastes as good as what you can get in a good Thai restaurant, but I make an attempt every now and then (especially when I can get good ingredients at the great ethnic food stores in NYC). This recipe from Tyler Florence is a solid showing. It’s got lots of coconut milk going, with ginger, lemongrass and Thai basil. The peanuts on top add a great crunch and richness.

The rice in this dish is actually really great — and I’m not a rice girl. The addition of arugula adds some interesting spiciness, and the dried apricots are a great hit of sweetness.

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TW’s Tips

  • Despite all the ethnic food stores here, I couldn’t find kafir lime leaves. I had to go with regular lime.
  • Go to the effort of finding Thai basil. It’s quite different from the traditional Italian basil — the flavor is really amazing. I even saw Thai basil at the greenmarket today.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp. I had to cook them a bit longer than indicated in the recipe to cook them through. Look for them to curl and turn opaque.
  • Have some Thai chile sauce on the side that you can mix in to add a little heat to this.

Enjoy!

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Coconut Shrimp with Basmati Rice, Apricots and Lime

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and smashed with the side of a large knife
  • 2 Thai chiles, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 quart coconut milk
  • 2 kafir lime leaves, or one lime, halved
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • Handful of arugula leaves
  • 1.5 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 small can straw mushrooms, drained
  • 4 fresh Thai basil sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts for garnish
  • 1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Directions

First get the sauce going: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the ginger, chiles, lemongrass, and shallots and cook until the shallots are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, sugar, coconut milk, and lime leaves and give it a stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minute, until the sauce is reduced by about one third and thickened.

While that’s cooking, jump to the rice. Combine the rice, salt, and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the apricots, scallions and arugula.

To finish, add the shrimp to the pot with the sauce and simmer gently just to cook through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the straw mushrooms and stir. Spoon the rice into the bottom of 4 bowls. Spoon the shrimp over along with the sauce and garnish each bowl with basil, peanuts and a wedge of lime.

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Chicken and Coconut Paella

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It sounds a little weird, yes. But this is one of the rare favorites I keep coming back to. Staying on my Tyler Florence kick: Chicken and Coconut Paella. What’s great about this dish: one pot to wash. Rice that’s a little crispy and crunchy and caramelized. Great Thai flavors from coconut milk and mint and coriander (freshly ground, makes a difference). Lemony watercress/pea salad on the side. Prep beforehand and bake it while you’re entertaining guests. Done!

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TW’s Tips

  • I honest to God could not find a package of bone-in chicken thighs at the grocery store (and they had literally every other option for chicken in America), so I bought two combo packets of leg/thigh and a couple of breasts and called it a day. Worked just fine, i.e., don’t obsess about the chicken part.
  • Use coriander seeds instead of ground coriander if you can. It’s fresher and better. Compare it to ground pepper and freshly ground pepper. I make my case.
  • I find that this needs a bit more liquid than the recipe calls for. I added an extra cup or so of coconut milk, and it could take even more.
  • I looooove mint in this dish, but if you’re not a big fan, try flat leaf parsley instead.

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Chicken and Coconut Paella

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (TW: add extra)

Pea Salad

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint leaves, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coarsely crack the coriander seeds. Season the thighs well with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with the cracked coriander. Heat a 3-count of olive oil in a large, deep, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down, and give them a good sear for 3 to 4 minutes to develop a nice crust. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side to brown the meat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

Hit the pan with another tablespoon of olive oil and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger, and bay leaf and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is soft but not brown. Now you’ve got all this great flavor going on in the bottom of the pan –chicken drippings, ginger, onion, and bay. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute of two until the grains are well coated with the oil. Stir in the lemon zest. Now add the broth and coconut milk and bring that to a simmer. Tuck in the chicken thighs, put the whole thing in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the rice is tender and bound by a creamy sauce and the chicken is entirely cooked through, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is done, put the peas, mint, and watercress into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper and give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning. To serve, take a big spoon and scoop out some rice and chicken onto each of 4 plates. Garnish each plate with the pea salad.

Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad

If you want a nice, simple dinner with super fresh flavors, this one’s got it. From Tyler Florence: Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad. The chicken is easy — just marinated with curry and lemon and simply roasted so the skin crisps up and the meat stays nice and juicy.

And this rice — wow. It’s got such great flavors going with the just-crisp-enough green beans, sweet, ripe mango, crunchy cashews and fresh mint, topped with a splash of olive oil, lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper — amazing.

TW’s Tips

  • I had a bunch of chicken thighs on hand so I used just thighs instead of a whole chicken. It worked great!
  • The fresh mint here makes a huge difference. Don’t skip it.
  • I cut back on the red onion — I used about half of what was called for, and it was plenty.
  • I used jasmine rice — and it was delish.
  • And I skipped the “spread the rice out to let it cool” part. I just mixed everything together. Bam.
Simple. Easy. What’s not to like?

Lemon Curry Chicken with Mango-Basmati Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 (3½ to 4 lb.) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. curry powder
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a large knife
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ lb. tender green beans, trimmed
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together the yogurt, curry powder, lemon zest and juice, sesame oil, and salt and pepper is a big bowl. Add the chicken and toss gently to coat with the yogurt marinade. Put the chicken on a baking sheet and roast, using the remaining marinade to baste twice as it cooks, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes total.

While the chicken cooks, make the rice salad.

Put the rice in a saucepan with the ginger, 2 cups of water, and 1 ½ tsp. salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Give the rice a stir, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 12 minutes without lifting the lid. Spread the cooked rice out on a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. Discard the ginger.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the beans. Fill a large bowl with ice water and add enough salt to make it taste lightly salted. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, then refresh in the ice water bath to keep the bright green color, and drain well again. Cut the beans in half crosswise on the diagonal.

Put the onion half, cashews and mint on a cutting board and coarsely chop them all up. Combine the rice and green beans in a big bowl and add the chopped onion mixture. Add the chopped mango, olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently. Taste for seasoning.

Mound the rice salad on a platter. Arrange the chicken on top.