Serrano Chile Simmer Sauce with Shrimp

by May 18, 2015


Chop, blend, and cook this sauce when you’ve got 45 minutes, then stash it in your fridge for a day (or three, or four), until you need a quick dinner.  Basmati rice into the rice cooker, sauté a pound of good-sized shrimp in a couple tablespoons of coconut or olive oil, set aside a few for the kids (unless they’re good with serranos…not mine!)  Spoon in the simmer sauce, cover, and as if by magic:  restaurant-quality shrimp curry before you can even get the table set.   You’re welcome.
(Actually we owe all our thanks to Soma of eCurry.  Her  Shrimp in Fiery Coconut Sauce is the original, and my inspiration.)


Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips:

  • Is a serrano hotter than a jalapeño?  Oh yes, but not as hot as those red Thai chiles!  Check out this fun site:  Pepperscale
  • Peeling ginger the easy way:  scrape with a spoon — just the right amount of the thin skin comes right off
  • Look for shrimp that are sustainably fished from the wild or farmed with environmentally sound practices. I’ve found sustainable Gulf Coast brands in my stores, so they’re out there. Read your labels and check out this article about buying shrimp from Eating Well.
  • Frozen shrimp thaw in less than 30 minutes.  Remove from packaging and place in a bowl, in the sink, with thin stream of water running over the shrimp and filling the bowl.  I can’t stand to waste water, so when the bowl is full, I turn off the water and just let the shrimp sit.
  • Don’t eat shrimp?  This simmer sauce would be fantastic with halibut or thinly sliced (¼ -inch thick) pieces of boneless chicken breast.  Four, 4 – 6 ounce halibut fillets will steam to perfection in the sauce, 5 – 8 minutes.  To use chicken, brown the pieces like the initial shrimp sauté, then add the sauce and cook it longer than the shrimp, 10 – 15 minutes should do it.)
  • Coconut milk, best brands:  Chaokoh or Native Forest.  Yes, full fat.  Shake the can vigorously before you open so the coconut cream mixes uniformly with the coconut water.
  • Coconut flakes:  Let’s Do Organic (wide flakes better than the finely shredded, but either will do)


Serrano Chile Simmer Sauce

Yield: about 1 cup paste; good amount for 1 pound of shrimp or other fish or chicken


  • ¼ cup (heaping) cilantro leaves, some stems ok
  • ¼ cup (heaping) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk (shake well before opening can)
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 4 serrano peppers, flesh finely diced, seeds and core discarded
  • 4 garlic cloves, paper skin removed, thinly sliced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • For simmering the paste:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 serrano chile peppers, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds and all
  • For cooking time:
  • 1 pound medium shrimp (16/20 count), thawed if frozen, shells and vein removed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil


  1. Into a blender or food processor and whir until it forms a paste: cilantro, coconut flakes, coconut milk, tomato, serrano peppers, garlic, ginger, salt, and cumin.
  2. Warm the 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced serrano chiles and the paste from the blender. Stir to combine, turn heat down low to maintain slow simmer. Cover partially with lid, leaving a little air gap - this just cuts down the splattering and slightly reduces water evaporation. Simmer for 20 minutes then remove from heat. Use same day, or store in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a few days later).

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