Hot Thai Curry Orzo with Shrimp, Bell Pepper and Wax Beans
August 18, 2012
I always look forward to trying a new flavor of Pappardelle’s Pasta. I had been eyeing the Spicy Red Hot Thai Curry Orzo for some time, but haven’t made a lot of Thai dishes in the past, so I was somewhat hesitant. I finally decided to get some though, and thought I’d do something with grilled shrimp and stir-fried vegetables to go with it. I had some bell pepper and wax beans from the Farmers’ Market, so I figured those would be perfect for a Thai dish. (Sure, Thai food uses green beans or (green) long beans, but I’ve always thought of wax beans pretty much equivalent to green beans. But they have the added bonus of keeping their color when you cook them, unlike those disappointing purple beans!)
One of the main features of Thai food is its wonderful balance of hot, sweet, salty, and sour tastes. I wanted to try to do something using authentic Thai flavors for the sauce, so I did a bit of internet searching, as well as paging through my newly acquired copy of Culinary Artistry to get some ideas. Culinary Artistry is a great book recommended to me by a woman at Sur la Table in Boulder. It has lists of different herbs and spice combinations, as well as different ingredients used in the cooking of various countries. It also has a lot of great information from many famous chefs. For my Thai sauce I decided on fish sauce, coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce and brown sugar.
After I mixed together everything for the sauce, it tasted pretty good, but was way too thin, so I added a bit of corn starch so it would thicken once I added it to the vegetables. I enlisted my husband to grill the shrimp, which came off the grill looking absolutely gorgeous. I was really pleased with the overall result – not only was it incredibly tasty, but it was a really beautiful dish!
Spicy Red Hot Thai Curry Orzo with Shrimp, Bell Pepper and Wax Beans
4 oz Hot Thai Curry Orzo
10 oz shrimp (fresh or frozen)
1+1/2 bell peppers, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 lb wax or green beans, ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
6 basil leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1+1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp coconut milk
4-6 tsp brown sugar (start with the lower amount, and add more if desired)
2 tsp canola oil
1+1/2 tsp cornstarch
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce (except the cornstarch) together. Taste and adjust as necessary – you might want more coconut milk, lime juice, or sugar, depending on your taste preferences. In a small bowl or mug, add a teaspoon or so of the sauce to the cornstarch, and mix well. Add a couple more teaspoons of sauce, and mix again until the cornstarch is dissolved. Now add the dissolved cornstarch to the sauce, and mix well. Set aside.
Cook orzo as per package directions. It’s okay if it’s done before everything else. Just set it aside and you can add it to everything at the end to heat it up again.
Peel Shrimp if needed. Toss in 1 tsp sesame oil. Grill on high heat (use a grill tray or basket if needed) about 2-3 minutes per side. If you’re lucky and can con someone else into doing this part, have them time it so that it will be ready about the same time as the vegetables.
Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beans and cook for two minutes. Add the pepper, and continue to cook until the beans and pepper are crisp tender (it seemed to take between 8 – 12 minutes – I got different results in my two rounds of this dish). If the beans start to brown before things are tender enough, you can turn the heat down a bit, or add a couple teaspoons of water.
Add the green onion and the sauce (and your pasta if it has cooled completely), turn the heat down to low, and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened.
Add the pasta to the vegetables and sauce if you haven’t done so already, and stir well. Plate (or bowl) the pasta, top with shrimp and basil.