Curried Shrimp with Cucumbers

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The cookbook that I adapted this from claimed that this was one of Cambodia’s most popular dishes.  I’m not so sure I believe that, considering I didn’t see any similar recipes in other Cambodian cookbooks, or even online.  But I was intrigued enough of with the idea of cooked cucumber in the curry that I decided to give it a go.  Until then I’d never even considered eating cumbers in a non-raw state.

The verdict?  Surprisingly good.  The shrimp and cucumber, which is cooked just beyond the tender-crisp stage, keeps things nice and light to balance out the rich coconut sauce.  And you’ve got two options for the sauce.  You can use a whole can of coconut to get a nice and soupy curry, which would saturate and flavor the bed of rice, or cut back to make things a less saucy.

Curried Shrimp with Cucumbers

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 shallot
* 4 green onions, cut into approx 1-inch pieces
* 1 1/2-inch piece ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground fennel
* 2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
* 2 teaspoons cayenne
* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1 1/3 cup coconut milk (or up to a full can, if you’d like it a bit soupy)
* 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded and cut into thick slices
* juice and zest of one lemon
* 1 teaspoon palm sugar (can substitute regular sugar)
* 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
* cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Place the garlic, shallot, green onions, ginger, fennel, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until they’ve turned pink. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the cucumber, lemon juice and zest, palm sugar and fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and the cucumber has softened. Serve atop a bed of rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.

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