My father-in-law gave me a cookbook called The Spice Merchant’s Daughter. It’s my favorite cookbook of all time. The author, Christina Arokiasamy, grew up in Malaysia and has cooked for resorts throughout Southeast Asia.She makes the exotic cuisine of the region accessible to everyone. Best of all, her recipes utilize many ingredients growing in my garden.
I adapted this recipe from The Spice Merchant’s Daughter to include mangos and lychees. I make it every year as soon as they get ripe. This batch was extra special. I used my two favorite mango varieties, Nam Doc Mai and Glenn, and a plump, small-seeded lychee variety called Sweet Heart.
Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk. When the can is undisturbed, you’ll have about 1/2 cup coconut cream at the top and about 1 cup milk at the bottom. You need them as two separate ingredients for the recipe.
You can substitute other fruit. You can also substitute tofu for shrimp. But don’t substitute brown rice for white. I agree with Christina Arokiasamy, who says chewy, nutty brown rice does not complement Southeast Asian cuisine. Use jasmine for Thai curries; basmati for Indian. I’m thankful for all of her tips, as well as her permission to write about her recipes.
Thai Mango and Lychee Curry
- 3/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 cups firm-ripe mango, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups lychees, peeled and seeded
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, divided (don’t shake the can)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or basil leaves
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro stems
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (nam prik pao if available)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2-3 fresh red chiles, sliced
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 lime, cut in wedges
- 3 cups Jasmine rice
Mince the cilantro stems and garlic. Heat a large pot, wok, or pan over medium heat. Open the can of coconut milk. Scoop off the top 1/2 cup of cream and add to the pan. Add the minced cilantro and garlic, curry paste, cumin and coriander. Simmer about 10 minutes.
Add the lime leaves and the remaining 1 cup coconut milk. Allow the mixture to simmer for another 5 minutes, hot enough for a few bubbles to rise to the surface but not a full boil.
Dissolve the coconut sugar in the fish sauce in a small bowl. Stir in salt and chiles. Add this mixture to the pan and reduce the heat to low.
Add the shrimp, mango and lychees. Cook just until the shrimp are firm and bright, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro or basil leaves and lime wedges.