One of the things I love the most about Asian cooking is how nearly every cuisine in Asia has a coconut milk-based dish. The more I cook (and eat), the more I realize that I have a very strong preference for dishes that have that rich touch of coconut milk. In fact, I think it is fast becoming a comfort food of mine. There isn’t one dish in particular, but the whole lot of them. From the more complex-tasting dishes like curries with coconut milk, down to something as simple as string beans with canned spicy tuna in coconut milk, set it down in front of me and I’ll happily munch away while inside a blissful bubble of my own.
Tell me you know what I’m talking about. It happens to all of us when we’re face to face with our favourite foods right?
The thing is, I love how the coconut milk makes any dish even saucier than it already is. It adds a richness that isn’t overwhelming by any means. It’s a pleasant richness, even kind of milky. And it’s great how it lends itself to pretty much any recipe, adapting to whatever you infuse in it or flavour it with.
This recipe is a personal favourite of mine because of the presence of another of my favourite ingredients– cilantro. The herb just permeates the sauce and makes the dish smell and taste wonderful. And because I do like spicy food, the addition of the chopped bird’s-eyes chilli PLUS the chilli sauce adds a wonderful kick.
It’s really such a colourful dish in terms of appearance and taste, and you can eat it with rice OR bread because the sauce is totally dip-able. Heck, it’ll have you cleaning up the bowl in no time!
This recipe is a quick-fire one. Let’s face it, we all need some sort of easy Asian shrimp recipe in our arsenal right? You chop up all the veggies and throw them into a hot wok, add the coconut milk and seasonings, then let it bubble away and thicken. You’ll have a nice hot flavourful shrimp dish on your table in less than 20 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weekday evening when you’re hankering for something tasty but just don’t have much energy.
The only thing I want to say is probably to use legitimately jumbo shrimp. As you can see, my shrimp aren’t that big since I couldn’t find anything bigger. A larger shrimp would be juicier and would add even more enjoyment to the dish in my opinion. Also, if you’re not such a fan of spicy food, I would recommend omitting the chilli sauce. It’s not such a spicy dish by my standards, but then again I’m the type of person who gets a thrill out of eating the chopped chilli floating in a dish like this one. I do highly urge you not to remove the bird’s eye chilli though because it adds a little somethin’-somethin’ you wouldn’t want to miss! 🙂
And because here in the Philippines we normally serve these types of dishes with rice, it’s how I would recommend you serve it too. The rice somewhat helps calm down the heat, but I have to warn you– you might surprise yourself with the amount of rice you’ll end up consuming!
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 pieces red bird's eye chilli, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1½ cups coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon chilli sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 pieces jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1. In a pot, heat olive oil then sauté red bell peppers until soft. Add in the garlic, cilantro, chili, and tomatoes then continue sautéing for a minute until mixture is aromatic.
- 2. Pour in the coconut milk and chili sauce, then season with salt and pepper. Give it a good stir then cover and simmer for 5 minutes in low heat.
- 3. Finally, add the shrimp and lemon juice then cook for another 3 minutes. Do not overcook or the shrimp might shrink and become tough.
- 4. Add more salt and pepper if necessary and continue cooking until sauce has thickened.
- 5. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more chopped cilantro. Enjoy with warm rice.
How would you customize this super easy dish? 🙂