This Jamaican style curry shrimp is thick, spicy and studded with hearty chunks of potatoes. It’s an easy comfort food dinner, perfect for cold winter nights.
The other day Tim and I were nestled up on the couch casually watching stand-up comedy. We went from “we’ll give it a couple minutes” to falling out of our seats with laughter. The joke that really got us was “It’s so cold out, what is this, like every year now?”. The realness of that statement was tough. That cold weather does hit us like a slap in the face each year… as if its new.
My remedy to combat these winter blues includes hearty, spicy foods and this curry shrimp checks both boxes. There are a few tricks you’ll need up your sleeve to ensure that the shrimp are tender and fully infused with curry flavor.
Curry Shrimp Cooking 101:
- Make sure your shrimp is defrosted if you bought it frozen
- Choose a sweet shrimp if possible (i.e. Argentinian shrimp- sold frozen at Trader Joe’s or fresh at most seafood counters)
- Ask your local fish monger which type of shrimp is the sweetest. The sweet shrimp balances out the curry spice.
- Slightly under cook the shrimp but leave the pot covered so that the remaining steam in the pot perfectly cooks the shrimp without drying them out
So what are the different types of curry?
Lots of recipes call for curry powder but curry varies significantly based on world region. In the U.S. we most commonly see curry used in Thai, Indian, Japanese and Jamaican/Caribbean cuisines. My curry shrimp recipe, is Jamaican style but if you’re unfamiliar with curry variances, here’s what you can expect if you’re new to the world of curry.
- Thai Curry: Typically uses coconut milk, has a creamy consistency and has lots of supporting veggies in the broth like sauce.
- My favorite styles: Green curry (mild and green of course) & massaman curry (mild, lots of potatoes)
- Indian Curry: There’s really not a one size fits all Indian curry, because it varies dramatically based on region, kind of like BBQ in the U.S. There are plenty of Indian curries to choose from ranging from mild to very spicy. Indian curries generally use A LOT of toasted spices as the base of the sauce and many times utilize fresh curry leaves.
- My favorite styles: Chettinad (mild, heavy on the black pepper) , vindaloo (spicy), and korma (mild, cashew based)
- Japanese Curry: On the sweeter side with a bright yellow, turmeric powder base. It’s very often served with katsu (fried panko breaded cutlet).
- Jamaican Curry: I’m not going to beat around the bush, Jamaican curry is my favorite purely because of the nostalgia factor. Curry shrimp in my family was reserved for special occasions, so it was one of my favorite birthday meals growing up! It’s bright yellow and turmeric heavy like Japanese curry but tends to be on the spicier side (not overwhelming though).
How to choose your curry powder:
This curried shrimp recipe is Jamaican style, so I have a couple of recommendations on what types of curry you can buy so that this shrimp recipe tastes how it’s intended to.
Some options to choose from are:
- My favorite brand: Salma Jamaican Curry
- I usually just buy the jumbo size, since I use a TON of curry. This brand tastes the most authentic to me, plus it’s not bitter and not overly spicy.
- Mix of commonly found supermarket brands
- I haven’t managed to find one grocery store brand on it’s own that tastes like true Jamaican curry, but I’ve blended a couple grocery brands together to get pretty close. Try using a spicy curry mixed with a more mild version.
- Make your own!
Can you make kale actually taste good?!
You’re probably wondering why you should eat a food that you need to coax into tasting good. Like if it actually tastes good wouldn’t you know immediately?
But I counter that question with another: Does unseasoned steak that’s been boiled and dropped on a plate taste good? That’s a big, fat NO.
I’m positive that you can make any food (with the exception of raw bananas…) taste good with proper technique and a little finesse. Kale is no exception. It needs to be treated with some love, so it gets nice and crispy, like a chip, for this curry shrimp recipe. It’s not traditional for Jamaican curry to be eaten with kale, but I like the crunch factor. Plus you get the added health benefit of eating a dark leafy green veggie.
The secret to perfect kale lies in the massage. Whether you’re making kale salad or crispy kale you need to:
- Be sure to remove the tough, stalk like stem in each leaf of kale
- Massage olive oil (for the crispy version) or salad dressing, into your chopped up kale. You literally have to rub all of the pieces together so that they’re fully soaked in, kind of like applying lotion to your skin. If you don’t rub the oil/dressing into the kale it will be too dry and tough to choke down. Kale is in the cabbage family, therefore it’s thicker than lettuce and can withstand heat
Curry Shrimp with Crispy Kale
This Jamaican style curry shrimp is thick, spicy and studded with hearty chunks of potatoes. It's an easy comfort food dinner perfect for cold winter nights.
- 20-30 count shrimp, peeled and deveined defrost if bought frozen
- 1/2 cup curry powder see suggestions in the post
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes I use Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1/8 tsp scotch bonnet or habenero pepper, finely chopped optional
- 3 springs thyme, fresh
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups kale, stem removed and chopped
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
Crispy Kale: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place kale on a lined baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Use your hands to massage the oil into the kale. Spread the kale out on the sheet so that there aren't any clumped together bits of kale (clumping will make it steam rather than crisp). Bake for 15 minutes until crispy. Set aside.
Place shrimp, 1/4 cup curry powder, 1 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a large ziploc bag. Marinate 20 minutes or overnight.
Heat a large pot to medium high heat. Add 1 tbs olive oil, onions and scallions to the pot. Stir occasionally and cook 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and 1/4 cup curry powder to the pot, stir occasionally for 2-3 more minutes. Add thyme sprigs to pot along with scotch bonnet/habenero if you're using it. Pour water into the pot, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and let potatoes simmer for 15 minutes (pierce with a knife to check for done-ness- should be tender but not mushy).
Add shrimp to the cooked potatoes, stir and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the steam continue to cook the shrimp for a couple minutes. Remove thyme sprigs from the pot. Serve with rice and crispy kale. Enjoy!