Coconut curry shrimp, with its creamy and slightly spicy notes, is a fantastic recipe to prepare when you crave Thai-inspired flavors. Prepared in around 15 minutes, this easy, mouthwatering shrimp recipe makes use of aromatic ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger, red curry paste and curry powder infused into a rich, coconut flavored sauce!
A Thai-Inspired Shrimp Dish Brimming with Coconut Flavor
It always feels like a real treat when a meal brimming with loads of complex flavor comes together in 20 minutes or less. Quick, delicious, and easy? I'm in!
Take this coconut curry shrimp recipe, for instance...
Since I first prepared it a couple of months back, it has become a favorite in our household because it tastes like a dish we'd order at a favorite Thai restaurant, coming together with a small handful of aromatic ingredients in right around 15 minutes.
It's the perfect pick when my hubby and I are craving a slightly spicy, saucy and comforting weeknight meal brimming with bold flavors such as lemongrass, ginger, red curry paste and yellow curry powder, all simmered together in coconut milk.
Finished with a little squeeze of lime, some fresh cilantro leaves and a few slices of red chilis for added kick and color, this easy coconut curry shrimp recipe is definitely on the menu at our house when a meal with mouthwatering Thai flavors sounds enticing!
How to Make Coconut Curry Shrimp
When a recipe calls for innately aromatic and flavorful ingredients, the good news is that you really only need a small handful of them to create a dish packed with flavor.
Because coconut is the dominant flavor in this recipe, I like to use coconut oil which nicely reinforces that flavor in this dish. The other benefit to coconut oil is that not only is healthy, but it has a very high smoke point which is ideal for high-heat cooking and sautéing.
What I appreciate about this coconut curry shrimp recipe is that those delicious layers of flavor are very quickly created in a hot skillet. They don't require a long cook time at all since the aromatics used are sauteed to fragrant perfection in just a few minutes before the creamy coconut milk is added and allowed to simmer.
And to give the shrimp a bit more kick, I actually like to season it with a touch of red curry paste and yellow curry powder, and then sear it in the hot skillet first to create a little bit of extra flavor and char before they're folded into the finished coconut sauce at the end.
Served over hot, fluffy, and fragrant jasmine rice, this coconut curry shrimp is utterly irresistible, and a total treat for us!
Here's a glance my coconut curry shrimp recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I season my large peeled and deveined shrimp with a touch of red curry paste, yellow curry powder, salt and pepper, then sear it until slightly golden-brown and charred in my hot skillet. I remove the shrimp from the pan and set it aside.
- Next, I create my rich, aromatic coconut sauce by sauteing my aromatic ingredients in my coconut oil for just a few minutes, until deliciously fragrant. I add a pinch of brown sugar before adding a touch of chicken stock along with my coconut milk and coconut cream, followed by a drizzle of fish sauce, and allow things to simmer for a few minutes to tighten up.
- To finish the dish, off heat, I add my seared shrimp back into the pan, along with a little squeeze of lime juice, plus some fresh cilantro leaves. And to serve, I spoon over top of jasmine rice, and enjoy garnished with a few slices of red chili and extra cilantro.
Coconut Curry Shrimp
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 353 calories per serving (without rice)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 ½ pounds large shrimp (16/20 count), peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand), divided use
- 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder, divided use
- Black pepper
- Coconut oil, or other high-heat oil
- 1 large onion, very finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- ½ teaspoon finely minced lemongrass (white part only)
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ cup chicken broth or stock
- 1 (13.6 ounce) can organic, unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
- ½ cup organic, unsweetened coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lime juice, plus extra wedges for garnish
- Sliced red chilis (optional garnish)
- Jasmine rice (optional side/accompaniment)
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- If serving the optional side/accompaniment of jasmine rice, prepare the rice according to your package instructions, and keep warm.
- To prepare the coconut curry shrimp, place the shrimp into a bowl and add in 1 teaspoon of the red curry paste as well as 1 teaspoon of the yellow curry powder, plus a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, and toss to coat the shrimp well.
- Place a large, heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat, and add in 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil; once very hot, add in the shrimp (working in batches if necessary) and allow it to sear and become charred/golden and cooked through on both sides, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside for a moment.
- Into the same pan add another 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil; once melted, add in the onion along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and saute for a couple minutes just until softened, with no color.
- Next, add in the garlic, the lemongrass and the ginger, along with the rest of the red curry paste and yellow curry powder, and stir together until the mixture becomes aromatic, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and stir to incorporate.
- Add in the chicken broth or stock, the coconut milk, the coconut cream, and the fish sauce, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a vigorous simmer, then reduce the heat slightly and allow the sauce to simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until slightly thickened (the sauce will not be very thick, rather more like a reduced coconut milk). Turn the heat off.
- Squeeze in the small amount of lime juice, and fold into the sauce the seared shrimp, plus the ¼ cup cilantro leaves.
- Serve the coconut curry shrimp spooned over the cooked jasmine rice, topped with extra cilantro and sliced red chilis, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Coconut Curry Shrimp:
- Full-fat coconut milk for creamy flavor: Regular, full-fat, organic coconut milk is my pick for this curry in order to create that thick, rich sauce. Light coconut milk is thinner in consistency, so it doesn't thicken up quite as well when simmered, but if you prefer to use that, you can substitute it.
- How to warm up coconut cream, if solidified: If my can of coconut cream is not liquid but rather has solidified in my cool pantry, I simple place the can into hot water for a few minutes to make the cream pourable, and easier to measure. But you can just as well scoop the cream, in its solid form, into a measuring cup and proceed.
- Fish sauce, for a pungent flavor: While fish sauce can be quite pungent and strong, a spoonful of it in this coconut curry shrimp creates a terrific depth of flavor and bit of added “umami”. You can typically find fish sauce on the shelf in the Asian food section of your market, or at your favorite Asian market.
- Both red curry paste and yellow curry powder: Using a bit of each of these creates lots of earthy, spicy, bright flavor in this dish. The red curry paste already has some aromatic ingredients ground into it, and the yellow curry powder has a slightly different note, with a bit of added heat. These two together add some nice color to this creamy dish as well.
- Large, peeled and deveined shrimp: If you can find larger, peeled and deveined shrimp (16/20 count), opt for those. I have used smaller size shrimp in the past, and those are fine; but I find the larger shrimp a bit more meaty and a better fit for this recipe. You can use frozen and just thaw the shrimp yourself before using.