I had a recent request via Instagram asking for tips on cooking curry shrimp. According to the person who contacted me, they encounter over-cooked and bland shrimp every time they give it a go in the kitchen. It got to the point where they’ve now given up on ever cooking curry shrimp again. I can assure you that if you also encounter this problem, you’re not alone. Experience also tells me that even many of the West Indian restaurants also get it wrong the majority of time.
My 5 tips for perfecting curry shrimp.
1 lb shrimp (clean + deveined)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (diced)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion (diced)
1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon veg oil (see tip below)
1/2 medium tomato (diced)
5 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon cilantro (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic (diced)
Place the cleaned shrimp in a bowl and get ready to season/marinate. TIP 1. Do NOT marinate more than 10 minutes. Season with the 1/4 the curry powder, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper, scallions, salt, black pepper and thyme. Mix well and marinate for no more than 10 minutes or you’ll risk it starting to cook prematurely.
Heat a non stick pan on a med/high flame and go in with the veg oil. TIP 2 .. by using a non stick pan we’ll considerably reduce the amount of veg oil we use in cooking this curry. Turn the heat down to low and go in with the diced onion, 2 minutes later go in with the diced garlic (cook for 30 seconds). With your heat still on low it’s now time to add the cumin seeds, cook for 2 minutes then add the curry powder to the pan. TIP 3. Cook the curry powder on low for about 3-5 minutes. This will cook out any raw curry taste and allow the spices which makes up the curry blend to bloom (most flavor).
Turn the heat back up to med/high and add the seasoned shrimp to the pan and mix well. Basically you want to coat each shrimp with that lovely curry base we created. TIP 4.. cook on a relatively high heat.
Do NOT cover the pan/pot! TIP 5.. if you were to cover the pan the shrimp will spring a lot of liquid which will take long to burn off. The goal is to cook the shrimp (remember we already have that flavor-packed base) very quickly so they are plump and juicy when we’re done. I usually cook the shrimp at this point for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size.
Turn off the heat, move the pan off the burner and top with the chopped cilantro. Should you want a bit of gravy with this curry shrimp you can remove the shrimp after 3 minutes, add 1/2 cup of water or coconut milk.. bring to a boil and cook for a couple minutes. When you have a desired thickness to your sauce, you can add back the shrimp and warm through. Don’t over-cook please. Adjust the salt accordingly.