Fresh, light and full of fabulous flavor, this curry is easy enough for everyday dinner and fancy enough for your most special dinner party.
There’s something my two and a half-year-old granddaughter, Emmy says just about every time we’re together. It never ceases to make me laugh. Okay, I have to admit, because it tickles my funny bone, I do tend to prod her on a bit…
Whenever I say something is “my favorite”, she jumps in and, without the slightest hesitation, says, “No, that’s MY favorite!”.
I’ll say, “Papa is my favorite”, she says (very emphatically) “No, Papa is MY favorite”. I’ll say “Red is my favorite color”, she says “No, red is MY favorite color!”. I’ll say, “That’s my favorite dress you’re wearing”, she says, “No, this is MY favorite dress!”. I’ll say, “This soup is my favorite”…. and you can just guess what she says, right? And on and on it goes…
I feel a bit like Emmy when it comes to the seasons of the year. Each time a new one rolls around, I’m (emphatically) sure that it’s my favorite! Right now I’m quite smitten with the idea of fall and all the delightfulness it brings; cozy nights at home with family and friends, fires in the hearth, dancing leaves in a zillion hues of brilliance, cool, crisp morning walks, geese honking their way precisely south, sailing through vivid blue skies. And a plethora of delicious culinary specialties that, with the season change, nuzzle their way into our palette preferences.
… there’s nothing like a little nip in the air to make us start craving the warm, spicy flavors of Thai cuisine.
Pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, roasted meats, soups, stews, chilis and curries. Oh yes, and there’s nothing like a little nip in the air to make us start craving the warm, spicy flavors of Thai cuisine. It’s funny how certain foods are absolutely addictive; the more we eat them, the more we want them. Curry falls into that category for us and I must say, it was to our benefit this past week as I tested and tweaked, made and re-made this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry.
Yup, we ate a lot of curries before I got the recipe just right, but it’s ready for you now and I think you’ll really enjoy it. Despite the fact that it looks fairly fancy, this recipe comes together in one pot, quite quickly. It starts with a couple spoonfuls of coconut oil and a sliced onion which is sautéed for just a few minutes till it begins to soften. Then comes all the (amazingly fragrant) good stuff; garlic, ginger, lemongrass, red curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce and a touch of sugar. It all goes into the pan and cooks till your kitchen is filled with the most incredible aroma. Chicken (or vegetable) broth is added next and a slow simmer marries all the wonderful flavors together.
We like our curries to have a bit of body, so I whisk together coconut milk and a few spoonfuls of cornstarch till smooth and creamy and slowly add this slurry to the simmering broth. Believe it or not, at this point, you’re just about done. You can keep going or just turn off the burner, add a cover and dinner is just 15 minutes away, whenever you decide to finish up! It makes a perfect entree for a dinner party as all the work is done long before guests arrive.
If you’re making this ahead, just bring the sauce back to a simmer about 15 minutes before dinner time. Slip thinly sliced chicken and peeled shrimp into the bubbling broth and top with the peppers and pea pods. Return the sauce to a simmer for 1 minute then cover and turn off the burner. Don’t peek, it’s doing magic. But in ten minutes, remove the cover, scatter with a dusting of Garam Masala fresh herbs and cashews, and… voila! Dinner is served!
A delicious dinner, bursting with bold flavor and loaded with amazingly tender chicken, perfectly cooked shrimp and crisp-tender veggies. A topping of toasted, salted cashews and fresh herbs adds yet another layer of deliciousness.
I like to keep bags of boneless chicken breasts and peeled, deveined shrimp in the freezer, making this curry super easy to put together, anytime! If you live inland, like we do, frozen shrimp is probably fresher than anything you can buy, as it’s usually frozen almost as soon as it’s caught. Shrimp can be thawed quickly, in a sieve under cool running water and, if you purchase chicken breasts shrink wrapped in individual servings, it takes less than 20 minutes to defrost the chicken in cold water.
We love this Shrimp and Chicken Cashew Curry served in shallow bowls over Perfect Jasmine Rice. Leftovers are delightful and make wonderful lunches and quick meals on the run.
So, when winter winds begin to blow and I’m spinning tales of giddiness over potential snow in the forecast, the delightful fragrance of citrus, hot cocoa on the back burner or the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon rolls wafting through my kitchen and I tell you winter is my favorite season, just laugh like I do about Emmy – but for now, celebrate this wonderful time of year and make a pan of Shrimp and Cashew Curry. You don’t have to tell a soul how easy it is – although they’ll be telling you how delicious it is!
P.S. See my beautiful spoon? It’s part of a set that was gifted to me by Polder’s Old World Market, makers of gorgeous, handcrafted kitchen utensils. Polder’s Old World Market calls their utensils “dreamware”. I totally get it, it’s the stuff that cooks dreams are made of… Check out their site, these gourmet utensils would make such lovely gifts!
- 2 medium boneless chicken breast* about 1 pound or 450g
- 1 pound 450g large shrimp**, peeled and deveined
- 3 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
- 2-3 tablespoon red curry paste*** see note
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1 teaspoons tumeric
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 medium bell pepper any color, or 6-8 mini peppers, thinly sliced
- ¼ pound sugar snap peas or snow peas halved
- Garam Masala you can find this at most large grocers in the international section or the spice section. Garam Masala is also available online
- 1/2 cup toasted salted cashews
- fresh cilantro and basil leaves for garnish
Slice chicken breasts thinly, crosswise (about 1/4-inch slices). Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. If using frozen shrimp, place in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Set aside to thaw, occasionally rinsing again with cold water and draining. If using fresh shrimp, place shrimp in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Cover and set aside to drain while preparing sauce.
Combine garlic, ginger, lemongrass, curry paste, fish sauce, curry powder, turmeric, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Top, tail and peel the onion. Cut in half through top and stem ends and slice into thin wedges.
Heat oil in large deep skillet, over medium heat until hot. Add onion to skillet; sauté 3-4 minutes or until translucent.
Add garlic-spice mixture to onions and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes stirring continuously, or until very fragrant.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Whisk together cornstarch and coconut milk till smooth. Add slowly to simmering broth mixture, stirring continuously. Continue simmering for 2-3 minutes until sauce has thickened. At this point, you can remove pot from heat and set aside until 15 minutes before serving time. Otherwise proceed with next step.
Add chicken, one or two pieces at a time, distributing evenly into pan. Add shrimp in same fashion. Top with sliced peppers and sugar snap peas. Return mixture to a medium simmer and cook one minute (don't stir), then cover tightly and turn off heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then remove cover and serve over jasmine rice. Garnish with a dusting of Garam Masala and a scatter of the herbs and cashews.
* Be sure to slice the chicken thinly, as it doesn't cook very long and if it's too thick it won't be done. If you have trouble slicing the chicken thin, just place the breasts in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then proceed with slicing. I really like the Kirkland boneless chicken breasts from Costco that are sold in a bag with each breast individually shrink-wrapped. I just pull out as many as I need and place them in a bowl of cold water. Within 20 minutes, they're thawed and ready.
** I like to keep a bag of the Costco large frozen shrimp in the freezer. You can take out just as many as you need, place them in a strainer and spray with cold water. They defrost quickly and are ready to go!
*** I like this brand of red curry paste. It's available at lots of larger grocers as well as online. We like our curry medium spicy so 2 tablespoons is just perfect. If you like more heat, you can add 3 tablespoons (or more, as desired). I would start with two, finish the curry and taste. If you like it spicier, you can always add more of the red curry paste at the end. You just can't take it away if it's too spicy.