Coconut curry brings out best in shrimp
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2019
  • 72°


Coconut curry brings out best in shrimp


    Bold seasonings brighten a shrimp curry: turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilies and ginger. Curry leaves are a plus if you can find them.


For me, every meal begins at the market — in this case, the fish market. The routine is always the same: Check what is on display, find the most fetching option and consider guests’ tastes (and the contents of my wallet). Take the plunge.

On a recent trip, I saw many attractive possibilities, but it was the wild Georgia shrimp, still in the shell, that caught my eye. With a little ingenuity, a pound of these beauties could feed a table of four. But, the question was, how?

It would be easiest to toss them, unshelled, into a pot of boiling water, seasoned with plenty of salt and aromatics, then serve them with melted butter and some crusty French bread. Peeling the shrimp at the table would be part of the evening’s entertainment.


For moderately spicy curries bathed in coconut milk, I would look for a bottle of spatlese riesling from Germany. These wines are moderately sweet, yet the thrilling balance between acidity and residual sugar renders them tense and refreshing, just the thing to go with the richness of the coconut milk, the complexity of the spices and any chili heat.
If you abhor the thought of sweetness in wine, try a dry German riesling or a good aligote, a dry white from Burgundy. If for some reason you want a red, inexpensive, unoaked cabernet francs from the Loire go surprisingly well with curries.
— Eric Asimov, New York Times

For something fancier, I could peel and devein the raw shrimp and saute them in butter. Add salt, pepper, tarragon, perhaps, a splash of white wine, and they are done in minutes. Serve with steamed rice.

I am also partial to spaghetti with shrimp cooked in extra-virgin olive oil. Just before they are done I add a good dash of crushed red pepper and lots of chopped garlic and parsley. Then I toss the whole lot with al dente pasta.

But in this case I chose to make a relatively simple shrimp curry. For best results, I let the shrimp steep in spices for a bit, starting with a combination of salt and pepper, turmeric, cumin and coriander, and adding chilies and sweet-sour tamarind paste.

Mushrooms, a natural pairing, also played a part. You can use whatever cultivated varieties you can find, whether button-type brown or white ones, pale gray or golden oyster mushrooms.

To pull it all together, I used coconut oil and coconut milk. My Indian grocery had fresh curry leaves, so I added those, but the dish is fine without them. Mint, cilantro and lime wedges decorated the platter. I sent it all to the table with some store-bought green chutney. Everyone loved it.


By David Tanis

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • A few fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • Mint and cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving

>> Marinade:

  • 1 teaspoon EACH grated ginger, garlic and turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH coriander and cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 serrano chili, finely diced
  • Pinch cayenne

Put shrimp in medium bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Add marinade ingredients; mix to coat well. Marinate 5-10 minutes.

Heat coconut oil in a wide skillet over medium- high. Add curry leaves, if using, and let them sputter, then add mushrooms and stir-fry gently about 1 minute.

Add shrimp and cook, stirring 1-2 more minutes until shrimp are pink and mushrooms have softened.

Add coconut milk; simmer 1 minute. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning.

Garnish with mint and cilantro; place lime wedges on side. Serves 4.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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