Chilies and turmeric boost 20-minute shrimp stir-fry


Weeknight ease married to plump texture and briny sweetness. It’s why shrimp is one of our staple go-to dinner solutions. Simply stir-fry a few aromatics and spices until fragrant, toss in the shrimp, and dinner is on the table in 20 minutes.

We had that in mind for a “dry” but intensely flavored stir-fry recipe from our book “COOKish,” which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor. Drawing on the flavors of Malaysia and Indonesia, cuisines that blend Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian influences, this stir-fry features earthy turmeric, fresh chilies and curry leaves.

Curry leaves have an inimitable flavor that’s citrusy yet also savory. Include them if you can (they’re sold in most Indian grocery stores), but if not available, the stir-fry is still great without. You also could substitute dill for a different but still delicious flavor. For those with timid palates, use the smaller amount of chili and be sure to seed them.

A single tablespoon of fish sauce is the only liquid, but it ties the dish together with a savory hit of umami. We like sprinkling the finished dish with chopped cilantro if it’s on hand, and serving it with steamed rice.

Stir-Fried Turmeric Shrimp with Shallots and Chilies

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Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

1½ pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons neutral oil

8 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 large shallots, sliced into thin rings (about 2 cups)

8 to 10 curry leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 to 4 Fresno OR serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped OR Thai bird chilies, stemmed but kept whole OR dried árbol chilies, broken in half

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, shallots and curry leaves (if using); cook, stirring, until slightly softened and lightly browned. Add the turmeric and cook, stirring, just until fragrant and the oil takes on a yellowish hue. Increase to high and add the shrimp. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned but not fully cooked. Add the chilies, fish sauce and ¼ cup water. Cook, stirring often, until the shrimp are lightly sauced and opaque throughout. If desired and if used, remove and discard the curry leaves and whole chilies. Season with salt and pepper.

Optional garnish: Fresh cilantro OR sliced scallions OR lime wedges OR chopped roasted cashews OR a combination

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at