Sunday Night Special: Prawn & Pineapple Curry
Yeah, it's already Tuesday, but these things take time. This venture wasn't wholly a success, as is occasionally the case when I make Malaysian style curry pastes from scratch. I suspect that my ingredients (and much of those in the U.S.) just aren't the same as what you'd find in a tropical climate. Freshness is an issue for sure. And I wasn't about to make coconut milk from scratch like the original recipe called for, that's where I draw the line. But I had jumbo prawns and a pineapple (thank you, new Fairway) that needed to be eaten and my mind immediately went to S.E. Asia.
I'm always wary of the amount of shallots called for. Fifteen seemed a little outrageous, so I used maybe ten. The end result was very bitter and slightly medicinal, and I'm not sure if that was due to the shallots (I'm always paranoid that they're going moldy, but then I have a violently irrational fear of mold) or galangal or lemongrass (I've been using frozen) having gone bad. Now that I think about it, the problem might be that I don't use enough oil (I cut the three tablespoons down to two) at high enough heat and the paste never properly cooks because it stays too wet. Hence, raw tasting shallots, galangal and lemongrass.
I ended up just picking the prawns out of the curry and eating them with my hands. I mean, you kind of have to to get the shells off anyway. There's no way I could let a meal go to waste. Well, unless it was moldy.
Prawn and Pineapple Curry
12 large prawns
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 stalks lemongrass, lightly crushed
½ small ripe pineapple, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup coconut cream (thick cream from top of an opened, unshaken can)
1 2/3 cup coconut milk (remaining left in can)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
8 red chiles
15 shallots, peeled
Galangal, 2" knob, peeled
Turmeric, 1" knob, peeled (I resorted to a teaspoon of ground spice)
Shrimp paste, 1" square piece
Wash prawns. Trim off feelers and legs. Leave unpeeled.
Heat oil in kuali or wok. Fry lemongrass and paste until fragrant and oil separates.
Add pineapple slices, then coconut milk. Bring to a slow boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Put in prawns and simmer until almost cooked, then add coconut cream and salt. Simmer until thoroughly cooked.
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia by Betty Saw. Marshall Cavendish. 2005.