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Choo Chee Goong - Red Curry Shrimp with Kaffir Lime Leaves and Basil


  • 1 pound medium shrimp
  • 3 orange or red serrano, jalapeño, or fresno peppers
  • 1 cup rich unsweetened coconut cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • Fish sauce, as needed
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar, or to taste
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • ½-1 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 1 to 2 short sprigs of Thai basil with purple flower buds, for garnish

Cooking Instructions

  1. Devein, and butterfly the shrimp; give them a saltwater bath to freshen. Rinse and drain well and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
  2. Cut two of the three red peppers into thin rounds, including seeds, and pound with a mortar and pestle to a coarse paste. Cut other pepper with seeds into fine inch-long slivers.
  3. Heat 2/3 cup coconut cream in a wok or skillet over high heat. When it has warmed to a smooth consistency, spoon out 1 tablespoon and reserve. Reduce remaining cream for a few minutes until it is thick and bubbly and the oil begins to separate from the cream.
  4. Add curry paste, mashing it into the cream. Fry while stirring, over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until it is aromatic and darker in color and the mixture is very thick.
  5. Increase heat to high and add the remaining 1/3 cup coconut cream, stirring to make a thick, well-blended sauce. Season to taste with fish sauce and palm sugar.
  6. Stir well to melt sugar and blend seasonings.
  7. Toss in shrimp and cook in the sauce, stirring frequently. When most of them have lost their raw pink color on the outside, stir in the crushed chilies and kaffir lime leaves.
  8. Stir-fry 10 to 15 seconds before adding basil and slivered chili. Stir well to wilt basil and when shrimp are just cooked through, turn off heat.
  9. Transfer to a serving dish and dribble reserved tablespoon of coconut cream over shrimp. Garnish with a sprig or two of basil.