I’ve often heard the phrase, “You eat with your eyes first.” When I was younger I was very skeptical of this phrase b/c it meant to me that the way food looked was more important than the way it tasted, and, in turn, that looks in general were more valuable than substance, since, *of course* all that was related to food applied to all of my the rest of my life! (I may have been dramatic in my youth…) I rejected this idea and happily went on my way cooking delicious things without giving much thought to presentation.
Then I started blogging, and reading more blogs, and marvelling over the mouthwatering photos of beautiful dishes. Food porn, they call it, and I was hooked. I finally understood what it was to drink in a dish with your eyes, even before the intoxicating smells hit you, even before the first taste touched your lips. That first glimpse of a plate meandering towards your table is enough to tantalize and leave you begging for just…one…bite!
And so I started paying attention to how my food looked. As I threw together dishes in my experimenting, I would think about not just taste, but color and texture. Why yes, curvy orchiette would be so much more texturally and visually interesting in this dish than languid strands of fettuccine laying about. Little dice of apples next to diced red chard stems would be such a lovely checkerboard effect against a backdrop of dark green leafiness. I composed these pictures in my mind as stirred my pots.
And so, when this dish came up in my recipe searches, I was immediately pulled in by the vibrant colors and happy textures. What fun! It was a perfect dish for a cooking date with my friend, Meg.
She made a most excellent sous chef. And by sous chef, I mean the person that did all the work while I ran around trying to read a new recipe, figure out how to delegate, and drink wine all at the same time. It’s a tough life I live, but I suppose I’ll have to do it. 😉
The recipe is very easy to make. Just have to take the time to chop the veggies. You can do it!
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons Thai curry paste
- 5 scallions, thinly sliced, white and pale-green parts and dark-green parts divided
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 1-inch piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 zucchini
- 2 red/orange/yellow bell peppers
- 8 oz mushrooms
- 1 lb green beans
- 2 lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layer removed, bruised with the back of a knife or a rolling pin
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 13½-oz. can light unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 lb raw shrimp
- 4 sprigs basil plus leaves for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Kosher salt
- Steamed rice (optional)
- Peel your shrimp, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside
- Wash and slice your veggies - bell pepper into strips, zucchini into half rounds, green beans remove ends and chop in half, mushrooms into quarters
- Chop up your onions, ginger, garlic, basil
- Get a large saute pot with tallish sides and heat up to medium 1 TB oil and the curry paste
- Stir to cook about 1 minute and add the onions, ginger, garlic for another 2 minutes
- Add all the vegetables and increase heat. Cook stirring occasionally until veggies are slightly softened, about 5 min 10 min
- In another pan, heat up 1 TB oil on high heat and add the shrimp for a quick saute of about 1 min per side. Shrimp should be still translucent and just barely pink. Take pan off heat and dump shrimp in the same pot as veggies.
- Add coconut milk, 1 cup stock, 1 tsp salt.Stir to distribute and bring to a simmer, about 5 min.
- Once shrimp is done, add 1 TB fish sauce to add an extra punch of flavor. Taste and add more fish sauce & or curry paste as desired.
- Garnish with chiffonaded basil and green parts of scallions and serve over steamed rice.