On a recent trip to Truckee, California, my mother-in-law, Betsy, treated me to a cooking lesson based on her adaptation of a Thai curry recipe. Betsy is a registered dietitian and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is enthusiastic about using a variety of recipes and ingredients, and simplifying recipes to make them more accessible to her clients and quick enough for weeknight meals! Betsy adapted this Thai seafood curry recipe from a beloved cookbook called “The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking” (see below for source).
Betsy prepped all of our ingredients while Peter, my father-in-law, Alex and I were out for a cross-country ski at the nearby Tahoe Donner XC Center. After a day spent out in the snow, Betsy’s curry is the best dish to come home to! Fortunately, we were home early enough that I could learn her recipe. We missed Annika, my sister-in-law, on the trails and in the kitchen. She is away in Europe competing for Great Britain in Nordic skiing, and is enjoying training and trying new recipes all over Europe. It was a treat to cook in the Taylor’s kitchen, which is full of personal touches like the painted cow tiles in the photographs below. Read on for my version of the recipe, with tips and tricks from Betsy Taylor!
Thai Seafood Curry – serves 8 to 10
While preparing this dish, Betsy quizzed me on my curry savvy: “using any ingredient in the fridge, what could you do to tamp down the heat if your curry is too spicy?” I guessed that you would add cream, but adding carrots pureed with water does the trick! That method also works well with Mexican dishes that taste too spicy. On the other hand, if you find that you need to add more curry paste, mix paste with a small bowl of your current curry base to form a “slurry” which will incorporate more smoothly!
For veggie variety, consider using frozen corn or frozen green beans prepared the same way as the peas in our recipe. Broccoli and cauliflower florets work well in curry; add broccoli, cauliflower or fresh green beans when you would add the Brussels sprouts. Kabocha can be used in place of butternut squash! Betsy has also made this recipe for us using cubes of tofu in place of salmon.
You will need:
- 1 lb butternut squash, sliced
- rice – we used organic jasmine brown rice
- low-sodium chicken broth for rice
- 14.5 oz can of full-fat coconut milk
- 2-3 T red curry paste
- 3 T fish sauce (soy sauce would be fine)
- 3 T sugar
- 2 t black pepper
- 1 T lemon juice or 1 lemon grass stalk cut into 1/2″ pieces, bruised with side of knife (smack)
- 32 oz of butternut squash soup – we used Trader Joe’s low-sodium version
- 1 t turmeric
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts, shredded
- 1 lb skinless salmon filets, thawed and cubed
- 10 oz frozen peas, thawed
- 1 lb frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, thawed
Optional: 2 tomatoes cut into wedges for garnish
- Start by thawing your frozen ingredients, including peas, shrimp and salmon. Thaw frozen salmon filets in cold water in their vacuum-sealed packages for about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare butternut squash. If using whole squash, microwave for 1 to 2 minutes before peeling and cutting. This will make the squash much easier to cut through! Cut squash into 1 inch rings, and then into thin slices. Combine with a little water in a dish covered with plastic wrap, leaving a vent open at one side. Microwave for 6 minutes or until just tender; the squash will finish cooking in your curry.
- Thaw frozen peas under running cold water for a few minutes to break up any ice, set aside. When your salmon is ready, cut filets into 1 or 2 inch chunks.
- Wash Brussels sprouts and trim the ends. Slice Brussels sprouts thinly, or prepare in a food processor.
- Follow instructions on package to prepare your rice, using half water and half chicken broth as your liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat and add coconut cream, reserving the coconut water at the bottom of the can for later use. “Golden Star” coconut milk typically has lots of cream; we got a little over 1 cup from our can.
- Add red curry paste, gradually (you can always add more later). Bubble for 2 minutes.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, coconut water, black pepper and lemon juice or lemon grass. Stir to combine.
- When your mixture has come back up to heat and is bubbling gently, add butternut squash soup. Allow your curry to return to a simmer between additions.
- Sprinkle with turmeric.
- Add Brussels sprouts, stir to combine. Add salmon, stir, return to simmer. Check salmon for opacity to indicate doneness after about 5 minutes.
- Add cooked butternut squash, stir to warm. Taste Brussels sprouts and add peas and pre-cooked shrimp when Brussels sprouts have reached desired tenderness.
- Adjust spices and sauces at this time. If using tomato wedges, add them now and stir to combine.
- Remove from heat, serve over a bed of jasmine rice.
Mai, Pham. “Thai Seafood Curry with Pumpkin and Fresh Basil.” The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking: Favorite Recipes from Lemon Grass Restaurant and Cafes. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1996. 210-211. Print.