Shrimp with Thai Red Curry in a Hurry

November 20, 2014

in Cook What You Like, Main Dishes

Shrimp with Thai Red Curry SauceSometimes you want curry and you want it in a hurry.  You’re not in the mood for a long list of ingredients and pounding – that’s for another time.  This is where pre-made curry paste and this versatile recipe comes in.

Made with basic ingredients that you probably have around the house (if not already, keep a bottle of fish sauce and a couple of cans of unsweetened coconut milk in the pantry), this Thai food-inspired curry dish is ready in less than 45 minutes – about the same time it takes to steam a pot of rice.

This easy recipe has lots going on:  spicy heat from the curry, unami from the fish sauce, tart from the lime and crunch and sweetness from the vegetables.  In addition to shrimp, other proteins work well such as boneless chicken, chunks of boneless fish, or firm tofu.  Use a little less than two cups of protein and adjust final cooking time if necessary.  Substitute with a couple of orange carrots if you don’t have a red bell pepper in the fridge.  Thai basil and cilantro tease the senses but should not stop you from making this if you don’t have any in the house.

There’s three easy steps from kitchen to fork:  1) sauté chopped onion or shallots, bell pepper pieces and minced fresh ginger until soft, add lime zest and juice, curry paste, coconut milk and fish sauce and cook on low for a few minutes, scatter in fresh shrimp and cook until shrimp is done.  That’s it!

Serve with something that captures the different flavors – rice, couscous or noodles.

Recipe: Shrimp with Thai Red Curry in a Hurry

If serving with rice, get the rice started first as this dish finishes quickly.


  • 2 limes, well-scrubbed and dried
  • 1 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion or 2-3 shallots
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 knob fresh ginger about the size of a wine cork
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp
  • salt to season shrimp
  • 2 1/2 – 3 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste (homemade or store-bought such as the Mae Ploy brand – adjust to your taste)
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Thai sweet basil


  1. Prepare ingredients: zest enough lime to have 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest. Squeeze juice from limes to end up with 2 tablespoons. Chop onion or shallots and cut bell pepper into small strips or pieces. Peel ginger using back of teaspoon and smash with the side of a cleaver or chef’s knife, then finely mince. Peel and de-vein shrimp, rinse and drain well, and season generously with salt.  Separate the cilantro and basil leaves from the stems; coarse chop leaves and discard stems.
  2. Cook curry: heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add onions or shallots, bell pepper and ginger, stirring frequently until onion or shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add lime zest and juice, curry paste, coconut milk and fish sauce.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Increase heat to medium low, add shrimp and cook until the sauce returns to a gentle simmer.  Continue cooking until shrimp is opaque in center about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Finish:  fold in cilantro and basil if using and adjust seasonings before serving.

Serves 4 with rice.

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