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Grilled Cornish Hens with Coconut Curry Sauce

['1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (2 large)', '1/4 cup vegetable oil', '2 large garlic cloves, minced', '2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger', '2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste', '2 (14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk', '1 1/2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar', '1 teaspoon salt', '2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce', '4 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-lb) Cornish hens, halved lengthwise', 'Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs']

Cook shallots in oil in a wide 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, mashing paste to combine with oil and stirring constantly, 3 minutes (paste will begin sticking to bottom of pot). Add coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in fish sauce and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups curry sauce (for serving) in a bowl and chill, covered.
Trim and discard any excess fat from hens (to prevent flare-ups on grill), then rinse and pat dry. Coat hens well with remaining curry sauce in a large bowl, then divide hens between 2 large sealable plastic bags and seal bags, pressing out excess air. Marinate hens, chilled, at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
Let hens stand at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas). (If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. When Charcoal turns grayish white (about 15 minutes from lighting), hold your hand 5 inches above grill rack to determine heat for charcoal as follows: Hot: When you can hold your hand there for 1 to 2 seconds; Medium-hot: 3 to 4 seconds; Low: 5 to 6 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then, if necessary, reduce to heat specified in recipe.)
Remove hens from marinade, shaking off excess, and transfer to a large platter. Discard marinade. Season hens with salt, then grill, starting with skin sides down, covered only if using a gas grill, on lightly oiled grill rack, turning occasionally to prevent overbrowning, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes total.
Heat reserved curry sauce in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until hot. Serve hens with curry sauce.

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