Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shrimp curry with coconut rice

I so wanted to love this dish.

I was so pleased with the chicken kebabs with nectarine salsa I made from Cooking Light recently that I wanted to throw myself into another recipe from the magazine. If eating lighter can taste as good as that chicken, sign me up. We are planning a Hawaiian getaway in a few months, after all--dropping a few pounds couldn't hurt.

Unfortunately, this one was a dud. I'm not even going to give you a link to the recipe--that's how boring it was. I will confess that I was missing one of the ingredients--mustard seeds--which I did not realize until too late. Perhaps that single component could have saved the dish. But, I doubt it. The curry turned out rather bland and thin, not creamy the way I like it. The coconut rice, which I was excited about because the husband loves coconut (and which I desperately want to like), was flat, in spite of adding a few extras of my own invention (a cinnamon stick and bay leaf).

As an aside, I'm a little turned off by some of the Cooking Light tactics. For example, this recipe called for instant rice. I guess I'm a snob, or maybe I'm just half Chinese, but who makes instant rice? I feel like in every recipe there is a shortcut I find off-putting. With the kebabs, it was bottled garlic.  Why would I buy bottled garlic? Should I pick up some Mrs. Dash while I'm at it? It just seems so dated.

Maybe I'm just not part of the target demographic. And anyway, I know the solution: ignore the parts of the recipe I don't like and do what I want. Yeah. I guess ultimately I am still (pointlessly) mourning the loss of Gourmet, the only food magazine I have ever really loved, which, in spite of being a little over the top at times, was nearly always on point with its recipes and current in its approach to cooking.  I can't seem to get on board with Bon Appetit (don't like the format and have had middling results with the recipes), Food & Wine is fine but doesn't really light my fire, and while I love the idea and look of Saveur, I never end up using the recipes.

So while the curry turned out quite photogenic (here's another shot, its last moment in the spotlight)...

it was dull, dull, dull. Not what anyone wants in a curry.

So, all kvetching aside, who has a good curry recipe for me?


  1. what a shame, I love shrimp curry on rice. since the recipe is from cooking light, it probably uses light coconut milk, which never tastes very good to me. here is a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey that is pretty good. I like saveur mag cuz they test all of the recipes in their test kitchen before publishing them.

  2. Oh, the name of the recipe sounded so good, I wanted to try it too until I read your post. But I agree, Cooking Light just doesn't seem to have the substance in its recipes. I now only pick up food magazines based on the cover, and don't really subscribe. Did the recipe skip on the coconut milk because it wanted to provide a "light" version? Sometimes, you can't cut out everything! :)

  3. Its so frustrating when recipes yield a poor product. I own a bread book which is full of incredible information, but the recipes/ratios are flawed according to readers. Total bummer.

  4. foodhoe: thanks for the link--I will be sure to check it out! I agree about the light coconut milk...it is definitely lacking!

    Ben: Yeah, it seems to be hit or miss with CL.

    Connie: What a bummer--what's the book (so I know not to buy it)?

  5. Yeah, forget about Cooking Light. Looks good, though! :)

  6. I miss Gourmet too. It was my fantasy magazine. This where I got travel ideas (e.g. Croatia), my sense food cultures (sigh).

    Cooking Light is a good magazine but it can be ht and miss.

    I never quite got instant rice either. Why? It's so easy to prepare a good quality rice. Many Americans think that they cannot cook rice. I don't get it.


    P.S. Hawaii-oh wow!

  7. Awww, sad it didn't turn out. I really don't get instant rice, or bottled garlic either. Or those horrible tubes of "fresh" herbs you squeeze out like toothpaste (do you have them in the States). I was curious and read the ingredient list once, and there was stuff like milk solids in a tube of "fresh" basil. What the?

    Have you tried Indian style curries which use yoghurt as a thickener? Have a feeling you might like them. Not sure how much healthier they'd be though :)

  8. cookie: thanks!

    Velva: Yes--I loved the travel articles--the photography was always so stunning.

    shaz: Whoa, never heard of the herb tubes--huh? How bizarre to call that "fresh"...kind of the opposite! I did once make a chicken curry thickened with ground nuts and yogurt--thanks for the reminder! That actually was a good recipe.

  9. I have many curry recipes! Instant rice is LAME! What is instant rice!

    Try this one...Seafood Curry in a Hurry. If you need curry powder I will trade you some for cookies :)


  10. ALY: thanks for the reminder--I actually remember seeing this recipe on your blog. :)

  11. I've been using - and liking - this Chronicle yellow curry recipe as a starting point inspiration. It says it's Indian, but reminds me of Thai:


    I use canned coco milk (Chaokoh brand, full-fat), ground cardomom and omit optional tamarind. It's good with veggies as recipe says, but also with chicken or shrimp. And definitely served over NON-instant rice! - Pete

  12. Pete: Thanks so much--I will check it out!

  13. Gourmet would NEVER have called for instant rice. Good grief, I haven't had that in the house since my kids were little!
    What a disappointment. It looks good, though.

  14. Oh that's such a bummer. The title sounded so promising to me too. Sometimes going "light" just takes out all the fun...ie. butter and fat!

  15. Barbara: Yes, aesthetically it was a success...

    Jessica: I couldn't agree more!

  16. Now that you mention it, I know exactly what you mean about the food magazines. I always ended up cooking way more things from a given Gourmet than any of the other ones.

    I made up a delicious shrimp curry recipe years ago, but since our external hard drive fell off the loft, the only copy is in one of my culinary school notebooks which is currently in storage... But I remember I made it by sautéeing onions, garlic, and ginger, then adding curry powder and coconut milk, then balancing the flavor with salt, rice vinegar, honey, and white pepper. Then I'd throw in some dried fruit (cranberries and apricots were favorites) and either peeled shrimp or diced chicken breast and simmer until it was cooked. I should make that again. Only now I'd use fish sauce as the salty component. :)

  17. camille: Too bad about the hard drive :( but that recipe gives me something to work with! The rice vinegar and honey are particularly interesting. Thanks!