Thai Shrimp and Vegetable Curry

I love the texture of sticky rice. Having had some issues with getting the texture correct – mine was too gluey – I turned to Nick Liu, chef proprietor of the excellent Dailo restaurant in Toronto. He showed me how to cook it and this is his recipe.

There are different kinds of glutinous or sweet rice. Chinese rice looks more like a short grain, and the Thai, which I prefer, has a slightly longer grain. But either works in this recipe. Soaking the rice is the most important part of making this recipe as it improves both the flavour and texture of the finished dish. Nick suggests soaking for 2 to 6 hours. Buying red curry paste instead of making it is easier, but buy a small tin from a good brand rather than the overly large ones at Chinese supermarkets. Mae Ploy is a recommended brand that is available in Canada. Fish sauce varies, too. It is usually made from fermented anchovies and should taste of umami, slightly fishy, salty but with a sweetness. Considered the best brand worldwide is the very expensive Red Boat, only available on Amazon.ca. When you go to the Asian market to buy fish sauce, cost counts – buy an expensive one.

There are options if you do not want sticky rice. You can cook 8 ounces of linguine-size rice noodles and add the curry on top of them or you can just cook some jasmine rice.

Ready time: 40 minutes, not including soaking time
Servings: 4

Sticky rice:

2 cups sticky rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

Curry:

1 zucchini

1 Japanese eggplant

2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

½ cup chopped shallots

1 medium garlic clove, grated

½-inch knob ginger, grated

2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass

1 pound (500 grams) shrimp, shelled

1 400-millilitre can coconut milk (preferably organic)

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup trimmed and halved green beans

1 cup snap peas

1 cup sliced baby spinach

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons Thai basil leaves

Place rice in a pot and cover with water. Add salt and allow to soak for at least 2 hours and up to 6, then drain.

Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Line a steamer basket with cheesecloth. Add drained rice to basket and cover with steamer top. Place over simmering water and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and leave rice in basket until needed then reheat for a minute or two.

Slice zucchini and eggplant in half lengthwise. Slice each half on a bias into 1-inch pieces.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir in red curry paste, shallots, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add shrimp and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until partially cooked. Remove shrimp and add coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Add lime rind, fish sauce, sugar, eggplant and zucchini. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.

Stir in tomatoes, green beans and snap peas. Cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add shrimp, spinach and lime juice and cook for 1 more minute or until spinach has wilted and shrimp is cooked. Taste for seasoning, adding more fish sauce, sugar or lime juice as needed.

Scoop rice into a serving bowl and top with curry. Scatter with Thai basil.