I should start off by telling you my blog friend Megan doesn’t call this recipe curry in a hurry. Curry in a hurry is what I call it—because, my friends, this is a curry that can be on the table in 10 to 15 minutes flat. If the rice and vegetables are cooked ahead of time, or, at least, cooked while you’re off doing something else, dinner prep is barely dinner prep. Dinner prep is as mindless as reheating leftovers or buying one of those ready-made things you dump into a pan on the stove. Dinner prep takes less time than it takes to go pick up takeout, watch an entire sitcom or, you know, blowdry my thick head of hair (which is why I rarely do).
What Megan calls this dish is, instead, red curry with pineapple—because, although this meal is quick and foolproof and faster than a meal from Rachael Ray, it’s also an amazing replica of one of the most popular entrees at Thai restaurants everywhere. The flavor-maker is the red curry paste, made of red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, Thai ginger, salt, shallot, spices and kaffir lime. Combined with coconut milk for creaminess, a little organic soy sauce for more flavor, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh pineapple and red chili flakes to taste, this dish is not just the fastest, but also the best knockoff takeout I know.
The next thing I should tell you is how I am, right now, fighting the urge to delete those first two paragraphs and talk to you instead about The Godfather, which is the movie we watched again Sunday afternoon. On this viewing, which took place with our lingering lunch guests after an Easter pizza party, what hit me more than anything was food: Clemenza teaching Michael to make tomato sauce, a box of cannolis being salvaged from a murder scene, veal Parmesan at a restaurant, Connie’s insane wedding cake in the opening scenes that is probably taller than our front door. I’m endlessly fascinated by the way food backdrops life—from Italian mob movies to self-employed Nashville couples—I mean, here we all are, pursuing our different goals and nurturing our different relationships and fighting our different battles, but no matter what, we all have at least one thing we know in common: We have to eat. Food is the setting against which we do everything else. Even mafia families need spaghetti.
Which is to say, Tim and I ate this curry on a weekday in which we were both tired and preoccupied with work, the way we are on many weekdays in this season of life. While I dumped the few ingredients in a pan in the kitchen, my laptop was still open on the table, and he was still propped up on the sofa, typing away. The sun is setting later these days, a fact for which we still give thanks like clockwork, and so when we shared our meal sometime between six and seven o’clock, there was still enough natural light to slow-shutter-photograph the table before we dug in. These simple days are ordinary, full, ones, the kind that send us falling hard to bed, and that lend themselves towards the mindless meal. And Megan’s recipe, while easy to market and perfect for Pinterest, is also this: a part of this last week of living, a backdrop against a full day of life.
5-Ingredient Thai Curry in a Hurry
Serves four when combined with your choice of cooked rice and vegetables
Red Curry with Pineapple
1 14-ounce can coconut cream*
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Red pepper flakes to taste
½ fresh pineapple, chopped into 1- or 2-inch pieces
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut cream, red curry paste, and fish sauce. Stir to combine. Add red pepper flakes (I like 1-2 teaspoons, which gives it a nice kick. If you don’t like spicy food, just add a little and taste until it’s perfect). Add pineapple, and stir to warm through. Reserve until ready to use.
Serves 4; I recommend serving with jasmine rice and steamed vegetables.
My favorite way to enjoy this curry is with pineapple cooked in, and served over a bed of jasmine rice and steamed vegetables. It’s very versatile, and could be made with chicken, shrimp, or any meat/fish of your choice.
*I get my coconut cream supply from Trader Joe’s, but I’m sure you could find it at Whole Foods or an Asian supermarket. Definitely look for coconut cream rather than coconut milk… it makes all the difference. Coconut milk will also work if the cream is not available.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.