I really liked growing up as a little sister.
As the number two to my big brother’s number one, I was privy to Superman pajama hand-me-downs; slightly broken-in parents (who needed less convincing when it came to eating chocolate cookies for breakfast or going to my first middle school dance); immediate protection against loser boyfriends; and of course, all of big bro’s sage advice. And his good looking friends to swoon over, too.
But there were moments when I cursed the day that I was born second.
Like when my older brother, seemingly sweeter than me, took advantage of my trusting personality. When he played with my absolute adoration of everything he said and did. When he told me that he would give me one million dollars if I ran around the house fifty times. And after I huffed and puffed and completed my half century of laps, he told me – with that older brother grin – that he never said one million dollars, but one million “doll hairs,” and handed me my very own teddy bear as my consolation prize. Which did little consoling in that moment of complete despair.
I thought I had made it rich.
Was I sad? You bet. Did I feel betrayed? Absolutely. Was there a lesson to be learned? Yes. And that lesson is that tricking people is fun. Especially when you don’t have to run around a house.
Let me be completely honest with you – this shrimp curry has no shrimp in it. Not because I don’t like shrimp. And not because I want to make you cry over false promises. I would never do that, like someone else I know.
I used to eat it by the bucket full. But because shrimp now exceeds my limit of sodium per serving, weighing in at 160 mg for 4 shrimp, or 480 mg per 3 ounces according to the USDA nutritional database. This may be fine for most people, but when it comes to the food I eat, shrimp I must skip.
So when I had a Skype cooking date with my blogger friend, Allison Fishman (who’s book is about to be released!), I had to use some of that older brother trickery to get around the salt challenges of our planned recipe: Coconut Curry Shrimp.
Making over this dish was pretty easy. I decided to use some delicate rock fish as the main seafood substitute, which I diced to look like chunks of shrimp. And as for the other ingredients, I didn’t need to do much altering. I recently found some tamarind paste that is quite low in sodium. But at the time of making this meal, I made my own paste by soaking tamarind pods in coconut milk (used later in the recipe) and then grinding them with a mortar and pestle. And to replace the zing of salt, I added fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime at the end.
And there you have it – Counterfeit Coconut Shrimp Curry.
A little lie and a lot of flavor.
Thanks for the lesson, bro.
recipe adapted from Anjum’s New Indian Cookbook
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 5 cloves
- 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 7 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 4 small tomatoes, quartered
- 1 green chile, minced
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 2 filets of rockfish, cut into shrimp-sized chunks
- 2 teaspoons low sodium tamarind paste or 2 teaspoons of tamarind pods soaked in coconut milk for 30 minutes and then muddled into a paste with mortar and pestle
Before you even start, get some rice cooking in a pot or your rice cooker.
Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet. Add cloves and cinnamon, and cook until they are fragrant. Add the onion and cook until golden, 8-10 minutes.
Puree the ginger and garlic in a food processor and add to the skillet with a tablespoon of water. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes until the water has evaporated. Add the spices, tomatoes, and green chile. Cook for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add rockfish and cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
Put tamarind paste in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of curry broth and stir to make a cohesive mixture. Return tamarind broth to the skillet and mix well. Serve over rice and enjoy. And don’t tell anyone there isn’t shrimp in there.