Look at this Curry Bowl!! Bold and insanely inviting! My ultimate comfort food, Jamaican Curry Shrimp, is a vibrant, spicy, and incredibly flavorful dish that perfectly captures the essence of Caribbean cuisine.
Imagine plump, juicy shrimp coated in a luscious sauce that’s both fiery and comforting. Whether you’re a fan of Caribbean cuisine or simply looking to spice up your dinner routine, this Jamaican Curry Shrimp is your passport to a tropical flavor paradise.
Originating from the beautiful island of Jamaica, this curried shrimp marries the sweetness of succulent shrimp with the robust heat of curry spices and Scotch Bonnet peppers. Coconut milk joins the party, lending a creamy richness that balances out the spices.
Whenever curry gets on our search radar, I am the one who is most excited here at the Beiser’s. We have lot of curries on GypsyPlate, I mean a lot. 🙂 Check out our fabulous collection of Curries from all around the world and get inspired to get curried.
In the past we have cooked some great Caribbean curries like Trinidad Curry Chicken and of course Jamaican Curry Chicken. We absolutely love the magic that happens when you cook these tropical flavors with the help of one simple ingredient… curry powder.
Today we decided to present you with some island seafood flavors that we’ve cooked many times over the years.
Caribbean Shrimp Curry is Bomb For Many Reasons
- Explosion of Flavors: The blend of curry powder, Scotch Bonnet peppers, and herbs create a taste profile that’s hard to forget.
- Creamy & Spicy Balance: The coconut milk beautifully offsets the spiciness, making each bite delicious with contrasting tastes.
- Simple Elegance: Despite its complex flavors, it’s a straightforward dish to prepare, even for novice cooks.
- Versatility: This curry is a dish that pairs wonderfully with various sides. Think rice, roti, plantains, or a fresh salad. Or you can go all out and pair it with Jamaican Rice and Peas.
- Exotic Experience: Eating it feels like a mini-vacation, giving you a taste of the islands right in your own home.
What is Curry Shrimp?
If you hear “curry goat” or “curry shrimp” instead of “goat curry” or “shrimp curry,” it means only one thing… it comes from the islands. Curry is very popular all over the Caribbean, where the style of cooking often precedes the main ingredient. Maybe that’s why it’s curry shrimp instead of shrimp curry.
In essence, calling it “Curry Shrimp” puts the spotlight on the beloved curry flavors that unite various Caribbean communities.
Curried Shrimp in the Caribbean is a delicious dish that blends spicy, aromatic curry spices with succulent shrimp. It’s a mix of both Indian and Caribbean cooking traditions.
In this dish, shrimp are marinated in a mix of curry powder, herbs like thyme, and sometimes hot peppers like Scotch Bonnet for that extra kick. Then, they’re cooked in a sauce often made creamy with coconut milk.
The result is a mouthwatering, flavorful dish that’s both hearty and satisfying.
Jamaican Curry Powder
Curry powder is a blend of spices that originated from the Indian subcontinent, but has become a global culinary staple. The base typically includes ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, and dried chili peppers.
These core ingredients can be accompanied by other spices like fenugreek, cinnamon, and cloves, among others, depending on regional preferences.
The spice blend became popular in the Western world, especially in Britain, during the colonial era and has since been adapted for various international cuisines, including Caribbean recipes.
With its vibrant golden-yellow hue from turmeric, aromatic qualities from spices, and variable heat levels, curry powder serves as a versatile, aromatic, and flavorful ingredient.
Jamaican curry powder is bright yellow in color, as it tends to be heavy on turmeric. It’s mild and not very spicy, and it usually includes coriander, cumin, turmeric, allspice, and sometimes fenugreek. Every household has their favorite curry brand, Betapac being one of the most popular.
- Jumbo Shrimp – Go with fresh, wild, deveined shrimp with tails on for the best flavor and presentation. Saying that you can use any shrimp of your preference. Frozen shrimp would also work, simply defrost them completely and pat dry before marinating them.
- Curry Powder – The type of curry powder you use can dramatically impact the flavor. Go for a high-quality, Jamaican curry powder for the most authentic taste.
- All-Purpose Seasoning – This acts like a flavor booster, enhancing the overall profile of the dish. You can find it in the international section of your grocery store, or order online.
- Garlic and Ginger – Fresh is best! These add a punchy, aromatic kick that complements the curry well.
- Thyme – Fresh thyme adds a subtle earthiness, and is a staple in Caribbean cooking.
- Shallots and Scallion – These provide a softer, more nuanced onion flavor than regular onions. In absence of shallots, you can use regular onion.
- Olive Oil – Great for sautéing and marinating, but you could use any neutral flavored oil of your choice.
- Bell Peppers – The mix of colors adds visual appeal and a variety of flavors. They also contribute to the sweetness of the curry.
- Pimento Seeds (Optional) – These add an authentic Jamaican touch, imparting a mild, clove-like flavor.
- Scotch Bonnet or Habanero Peppers – These bring the heat! Adjust the quantity based on your tolerance. A “MUST” for this Jamaican Curried shrimp.
- Coconut Milk – Go for full-fat coconut milk for a rich, creamy texture.
Jamaican Curry Shrimp Recipe
1. Marinate the Shrimp: Season the shrimp with curry powder, all purpose seasoning, garlic, ginger, thyme, sliced shallot, scallion and olive oil. Marinate for 30-60 minutes.
2. Prep the Base: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté bell peppers and shallots for 3-4 minutes.
3. Cook the Curry Powder: Move the bell pepper and shallot mixture to the side of the pan. Add a dash of oil and curry powder. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Mix with the bell pepper mixture and continue cooking until the curry powder turns a toasty brown color (about 4-5 minutes).
4. Add Aromatics: Stir in the ginger and garlic, and cook for one minute.
5. Cook the Shrimp: Add the marinated shrimp to the pan.
Add scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, all-purpose seasoning, and salt. Cook until the shrimp start to curl.
6. Final Touches: Add coconut milk and water. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked. Adjust salt to taste.
7. Rest & Serve: Let the curry sit for a few minutes to meld the flavors. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and serve with warm rice or roti.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Marination Magic: Make sure to marinate the shrimp for at least 30 minutes. This helps the flavors penetrate deep into the shrimp.
- Fresh Over Frozen: Whenever possible, use fresh, wild shrimp. They have a sweeter, more robust flavor compared to their frozen or farm raised counterparts.
- Spice It Right: Authentic Jamaican curry is pretty spicy. For more heat, add both sliced Scotch Bonnet, as well as a whole one that has been pierced. Allow it to set for some time after cooking for the heat to really develop. That being said, if you’re sensitive to heat but still want that authentic Caribbean kick, remove the seeds and membrane from the Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers before adding them.
- Coconut Milk Quality: Go for full-fat coconut milk for a richer, creamier curry. It elevates the dish from good to amazing.
- Curry Powder Toasting: Make sure to stir the curry powder well when cooking it initially, as this releases the essential oils in the spices and boosts the overall flavor of the dish. Also, constant stirring prevents the curry from burning.
There are many ways to tweak this recipe to make it your own. Here are some ideas:
- Vegetable Medley: Add in some diced potatoes or carrots to make the dish heartier. The veggies will soak up the curry flavors beautifully.
- Protein Swap: If you’re out of shrimp or simply want to try something different, chicken or tofu make excellent substitutes without compromising on flavor.
- Seafood Mix: Why stop at shrimp? Add in some scallops or chunks of fish like snapper or cod for a mixed seafood curry.
- Different Peppers: If Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers are too hot for your taste, you can go for milder peppers like jalapeños.
- Use Tomatoes: Some variations use either fresh tomatoes or tomato paste. Add it after sautéing peppers and shallots.
- Skip the Coconut Milk: Yes, some prefer to cook the Jamaican curries without coconut milk. Simply cook the same recipe with chicken stock or water. Less creamy version, but equally good.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach or kale can be wilted into the curry at the end for added color and nutrients, without altering the fundamental flavors of the dish.
- Zest It Up: Grate some lime or lemon zest into the curry for an extra layer of citrusy zing.
Leftover and Storing Instructions
Jamaican shrimp curry is fantastic as leftovers, the flavors become enhanced as it rests for a night. First, let the curry cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. For short-term storage, keep it in the fridge and enjoy within 2 to 3 days.
Simply warm it up in the microwave or on stove top over medium heat with a splash of water or coconut milk, if needed, until hot through out.
We do not recommend freezing this shrimp curry, as seafood is best consumed fresh, and coconut milk doesn’t freeze well.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: Yes, you can use frozen shrimp, but for the best flavor, thaw them completely and pat them dry before marinating.
A: The level of spice can be adjusted based on the number and type of peppers you use. Scotch Bonnet peppers are quite spicy, but you can use milder peppers for a less fiery dish. You can also use a whole scotch bonnet pepper without puncturing it, or remove the seeds for various spice levels.
A: While coconut milk gives the dish its rich, creamy texture, you can use almond milk or heavy cream as a substitute, though the flavor will differ.
A: Jamaican Curry Shrimp pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, roti, or even fried plantains for a complete meal experience.
A: Absolutely, you can replace the shrimp with tofu or a medley of vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms.
A: You can, but Jamaican Curry Powder has a unique blend of spices that provide the dish its signature flavor.
One more curry, tested and mastered. This one is for spice lovers. That scotch bonnet pepper is the key, besides curry powder, for this cracking curry. Use them liberally to get those authentic flavors going.
Of course, you can go milder and work up from there by adjusting and adding more heat as you go. It’s your curry, make it just the way you like. For myself, I am already thinking to add more scotch bonnet next time… 🙂
Check out other Jamaican Recipes here on GypsyPlate, and get those island flavors going.
Jamaican Curry Shrimp, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 1.5 pounds jumbo shrimp, deveined with tails on
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp all purpose seasoning
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 4-5 thyme sprigs, broken into pieces
- 2 Tbsp shallots, diced
- 1 scallion, diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
Jamaican Curry Shrimp
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 bell peppers (we used red, green and yellow), diced
- 1 shallot, diced or sliced
- 2 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3-4 pimento seeds (optional)
- 5-6 thyme sprigs, broken into large pieces
- 2 tsp all purpose seasoning
- salt to taste
- 1-3 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers (see note)
- 14oz can coconut milk
- scallions, for garnish
- cilantro, for garnish
- Season the shrimp with all marinade ingredients and marinate for 30-60 minutes, or while you prep the other ingredients.
- Heat oil in a skillet or pan over medium high heat and sauté chopped bell peppers and shallots for 3-4 minutes.
- Slide the pepper and shallot mixture to the side of the pan, add a dash of oil in the middle and add curry powder. Cook it, stirring continuously, for a minute or two. Mix it with the bell pepper mixture and continue cooing for 4-5 minutes, till the curry powder is cooked well and starts sticking to the bottom, turning toasty brown in color. (Stir constantly so as not to burn the curry powder)
- Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute. Add shrimp along with all marinade and mix well.
- Add scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, all purpose seasoning, salt and mix well. Cook for a few minutes till the shrimp start getting a little sear, or just starting to curl up.
- Add coconut milk along with 1/4 cup water (you can add more water if you want thinner curry, we like it thick). Cook for 5-8 minutes, or till the shrimp is cooked. Taste and adjust for salt. Let it sit for a few minutes to meld all the flavors.
- Garnish with scallions and cilantro, and serve with warm rice or roti.
- You can use less or more scotch bonnet pepper depending how spicy you want your curried shrimp. Always use caution or wear gloves when handling them. We cut half of a scotch bonnet into strips without seeds, plus we use one whole scotch bonnet pepper and busted it open (keeping the seeds intact) and cook it with the curry. The heat is a very integral part of Jamaican curries, and this made it medium spicy. Add more scotch bonnet for a spicier version.
- Go with fresh, wild shrimp for best flavor and presentation. If using frozen shrimp, simply defrost them completely and pat dry before marinating them.
- We use full fat coconut milk for this recipe.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Reheat on stovetop over medium heat, adding a splash more water if needed.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 423Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 239mgSodium 1947mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 29g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.