Deconstruction is trendy. Trendy like a hipster wearing a t-shirt, a tight vest and rectangular sunglasses riding a Vespa. The culinary world is all about deconstruction–separating the elements of a dish and putting a new spin on a favorite. On Tastespotting (one of my favorite visual indulgences), there are 43 recipes for deconstructed something or others. Deconstructed fried rice, anyone? Top Chef devotes a segment to deconstruction every season. How about Deconstructed Caesar Salad with Chicken Wing, Parmesan Gel and Brioche?
I don’t wear sunglasses like Paris Hilton or read Cosmo to keep up with the latest “dos and don’ts.” My closet doesn’t house any Greek goddess-inspired sandals or skinny jeans, but I do buy into some trends, sometimes, especially when it comes to tinkering with food. Putting the word “deconstructed” in a recipe title makes it sound fancy. I’m not going to lie…sometimes I like to sound fancy.
My friends are made up of two different categories of people. Those who love to eat, and those who love to cook and eat. One such friend from the second category introduced me to pineapple chicken curry; thinly sliced chicken, onion and pineapple bathed in a steaming bath of coconut milk and red curry. This was my gateway meal to Thai cooking. I was instantly hooked and had to have the recipe.
This afternoon, Luca lies on her belly in the kitchen, frog-dog style, trying to cool off. Not even the squeaky lobster can lure her off of the floor. I am coveting the KitchenAid ice cream maker on Amazon, daydreaming about berry sorbet and pistachio ice cream. It’s 4:00 pm, and I’m already thinking about dinner.
Thai is on my mind. I crave the addictive balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. Saute and simmer are not on my agenda today; steaming bath not in my vocabulary. I was thinking more along the lines of marinate and grill. This is begging for a deconstruction.
We’ll marinate shrimp instead of chicken, in red curry flecked coconut milk, spiked with lime juice and a confetti of lime zest, red onion and cilantro. Kabobs just scream summer, so we’ll skewer those bad boys along with fresh pineapple and sweet onion, and grill instead of simmer. Just for good measure, we’ll serve it over coconut cilantro rice, which is where my “no-simmer” agenda kind of falls apart. At least we won’t have to stand over the stove while it cooks.
Maybe someday, when the days grow shorter, we’ll re-construct this deconstruction. For now, we’ll sit on the patio, skewers in hand, and watch the sun dip behind the mountains as we plan our next culinary adventure.
Red Curry Coconut Marinated Shrimp With Grilled Pineapple and Sweet Onion
Marinade and Shrimp:
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lime zest, grated from two limes
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, squeezed from one lime
- 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste (to taste)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
- 2 pounds large shrimp, shells removed (tail left intact) and deveined
- bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- oil, for brushing grill grates
Pineapple and Onion:
- 1 pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 large sweet onions, halved, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt to taste
Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce:
- reserved marinade from shrimp, jalapeño slices removed
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon thai sweet chile sauce
Pre-heat the grill to medium-high
Make the marinade and thread the skewers:
Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, and reserve the marinade in a small saucepan.
Thread the pineapple and onion on separate skewers. Sprinkle kosher salt on the onion skewers to taste.
Make the dipping sauce:
Bring the reserved marinade to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar and sweet chile sauce.
Grill the skewers:
Brush the grill grates with oil. Place the onion and pineapple skewers on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until grill marks appear.
After flipping the pineapple and onion, grill the shrimp 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until they turn pink and are lightly charred on each side.
Cilantro-Coconut Jasmine Rice
Inspired by a tip from my friend Amy, who likes to use coconut milk when making jasmine rice. The result is a sticky, slightly sweet rice with a coconut aroma. This rice can be made on the stove or in a rice cooker. For a variation, add one or more of the following: chopped jalapeños, cilantro, diced mango, thai basil, toasted coconut, or whatever your heart desires.
On the stove:
- 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed well and drained
- 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Place the rinsed rice in a large saucepan. Add coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar to the saucepan. Stir, and bring to a boil. Immediately stir again, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is dissolved. Fluff the rice with a fork and toss in the chopped cilantro.
In the rice cooker:
Combine all of the ingredients from above in the bowl of the rice cooker, increasing the coconut milk to one 13.5 oz can. Cook according to rice maker instructions. Fluff the rice with a fork and toss in the chopped cilantro.