When I make a dish that is inspired by a specific cuisine, like Indian, or Italian, it’s because I can. And you can, too. It’s just about being familiar with the specific ingredients of that cuisine. Then it’s just a matter of utilizing those ingredients to create your dish – no recipe required.
The same thing can be done with Thai food. I’m not saying I’m an expert. In fact, there are many ingredients I can’t get my hands on, which is sad, because I’ll never be able to taste them or cook with them. But there are two important ingredients in Thai cooking that are readily available. Those are curry pastes, and coconut milk.
Of course you can make your own curry pastes, and I’m one to usually do most everything from scratch in the kitchen. But because I can’t get certain fresh ingredients, like galangal and kaffir lime, there’s no way I could make a curry paste that comes close to the real thing. So I do rely on prepared curry pastes.
My favorite brand in Mae Ploy. The green is mostly green chiles and lemongrass. The red, my favorite, is mostly red chiles and garlic. The yellow is mostly lemongrass and garlic. They are pastes and must be refrigerated.
Regarding the coconut milk, I’m not talking sweetened coconut milk for pina coladas! Just plain coconut milk in a can. Coconut milk in a carton will work but it’s thinner and has a milder flavor.
Two other ingredients that come in handy when making Thai food are herbs, like mint, cilantro, and basil, as well as chile peppers. These can both be sprinkled on top of your Thai dish. But as long as you have coconut milk and a curry paste, you can make any dish Thai inspired.
So today I’m making a risotto using red curry paste and coconut milk, and topping it with grilled garlic-cilantro shrimp. It’s Thai, and it’s risotto!
Thai-Inspired Risotto with Grilled Garlic-Cilantro Shrimp
For the risotto:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 shallots, diced
1″ piece ginger, diced
1 1/4 cup risotto rice, like arborio or carnaroli
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
1 tablespoon red curry paste
For the shrimp:
1 pound good-sized shrimp, cleaned
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 limes
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cilantro, to taste
Rinse and dry the shrimp; set aside.
Place the remaining ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth. Pour the marinade over the shrimp and toss them gently.
When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat a stove-top grill or skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot skillet and cook for just a minute or so on both sides. The timing will be different based on the size of your shrimp.
After you’re done cooking all of the shrimp, cover them and set aside while you make the risotto.
Instead of plain olive oil for the risotto, I actually poured the rest of the green marinade into the skillet while it was still hot, and let the watery liquid boil off.
Then I poured it through a fine sieve into the risotto pot. That way the oil I use is much more flavorful, with the garlic and cilantro flavors! But olive oil or butter will both work.
Heat the oil in the risotto pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and ginger. Sauté for a few minutes.
Then add the rice and stir until all of the rice grains are coated with the oil.
Begin adding the chicken broth, about 1/4 cup at a time, and stirring the rice well after each addition.
Add the curry paste and stir in completely. You will love the smells!
Then I began adding the coconut milk, and treating it exactly like the broth. But you can change up the broth to coconut milk ratio to your liking.
The risotto will let you know when it’s at maximum absorption, because it just won’t absorb any more liquid. But trust me, if you let it sit, it will thicken. So be ready to serve the risotto at the end of the cooking time. That way it will be hot and creamy, and not thick and stiff.
Serve the risotto in a pasta-type bowl, and top with the grilled shrimp.
I sprinkled on some slices of fresh chile peppers; Thai chile peppers aren’t necessary, you just want something with a little heat. Even jalapenos would work. Chile peppers provide such lovely color, as well.
You can also top the dish with chopped cilantro, mint, and or basil.
If you’re interested in authentic Thai cuisine, check out Miranti’s blog at The High Heel Gourmet!
Absolutely lovely! The other day I was thinking of making a “Japanese-style” risotto using sake, edamame, stuff like that. I guess we were on the same wavelength….
Sounds fabulous! I really love playing with polentas and risottos cause you really can play with the flavors!
A Thai inspired risotto is so creative and yet so natural. Great idea!
Thank you so much!
I have three words for this – WOW… WOW.. and WOW !!! This has gotta be so tasty! What a great combination of flavors… and great ‘Thinking Outside the Box”!!
Thanks so much! Risotto is one of those dishes that I really enjoy playing with!
Those shrimp on the grill are mouth watering! This looks so delicious. I used to think curry paste was cheating, but it really is hard to achieve that authentic taste without all of the ingredients and even when you do, the proportions are still mysterious. Wonderful recipe!
I have to buy the paste, because I can’t get all of the various Thai ingredients. The pastes seem like quality products, though.
Two risotto recipes in one day! (Stefan also had one yesterday but I’m a day behind on my readerboard.) Yours looks to be tasty too, indeed! I do like Thai and spicy, and the shrimp puts it over the top. Thank you!
You are so welcome!!! I love to play with risotto!
Your risotto looks fantastic, what an AWESOME fusion dish :D
Choc Chip Uru
Thanks so much Uru! What would it be… Thailian?!!!
Great idea! Can’t wait to try it!
If you love Thai flavors, you’ll love this dish!!!
Thai is my favourite :)
This looks incredible. I love risotto and I love Thai, but never thought about combining the two. I am very excited to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing. Have a great weekend. Emma.
Some purists might turn up their noses at this idea, but I really love playing with risottos and polentas.
My husband and I would love this! Though I’d have to do chicken for him but if I’m doing it on the grill I can do both. :)
Absolutely! Chicken would be wonderful as well!
Now that’s a beautiful risotto. I’m terrified of too spicy but I’m taking baby steps to expand my palate a little…maybe for me I should go easy on the curry paste?
Start with a teaspoon, that way you can always add more.
Very creative Mimi. Lovely dish.
Thank you so much Conor!
Oh wow Mimi… honestly. Someday I’m going to show up at your front door, and sit in your kitchen and watch you cook. This is amazing. <3
Oh I love the idea of this fusion!
This looks delicious!!
Thank you! It really was!