Indonesian-Style Shrimp Curry

I love shrimp curry! It’s funny because whenever I sit down to eat shrimp curry, it’s usually at my dinner table. Whenever I eat out, I tend to go for chicken, pork, or vegetarian curries as a default. But whenever I decide to mix my proteins up, it’s at home, and I’m always so pleased with myself. I really should order seafood curries at restaurants more because they are just oh-so-good!

So what makes this curry Indonesian-style? A lot of curries around the world share similarities between the spices used, coconut milk, and chilies. But in Indonesia, curries often use ground candlenut, shrimp paste, and sambal.

If you’re not sure what candlenuts are, you can easily order them online at Indo Food Store if you’re curious to try them out. You can also use macadamia nuts instead, but the texture and flavor won’t make for a perfect match. Even so, at least sambal and shrimp paste are easy to find at Asian grocery stores! I used sambal bajak for this recipe, but sambal ulek would work perfectly as well. I just food-nerded out when I ordered sambal online recently and opted for bajak to try it for the first time. It’s delicious!

Not surprisingly, this curry was so good, it didn’t last long in our kitchen. I only had three pieces of shrimp left and a few tablespoons of curry by the time I took my picture of the food. It was so difficult to leave even that little amount of leftovers, but I succeeded so I could share this shrimp curry recipe with you! 

Indonesian-Style Shrimp Curry

Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 4-6

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp lemongrass, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 candlenuts or macadamia nuts, grated
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp shrimp paste
2 tsp sambal bajak or ulek
24 oz medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
8 fresh or dried birdseye chilies (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam)

To Serve
Steamed jasmine rice
Lime wedges
Fried shallots (optional)

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and lemongrass. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in turmeric, coriander, grated candlenuts, and cumin, and stir until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add shrimp paste, sambal, and shrimp and sauté for a minute to combine. Stir in coconut milk, birdseye chilies, lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the curry has thickened to a desirable consistency. 

Serve curry on plates over steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with lime wedges and fried shallots if desired.



Surf & Turf Spaghetti (Spaghetti alla Mare e Terra)

How do you make your favorite pancetta or bacon pasta healthier? By adding seafood and plenty of vegetables to it, of course! 

For flavor (and to hit the spot!), this Surf and Turf Spaghetti has just a touch of pancetta, but delivers a nutritional punch with an amazing amount of garlic, plenty of fennel and cherry tomatoes, and for an omega-3 boost, shrimp and octopus. Just check out my nutritional analysis below the recipe. 

Each serving comes with a reasonable 550 calories and almost half of your vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Not bad, right? Pasta doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure after all! 

Adrian decided that we’d call this one Spaghetti alla Mare e Terra because he’s cute like that. Somehow he still remembers Italian from studying abroad in Florence over a decade ago. I wish I had that memory, but at least I can rely on his when we're overseas!

Surf & Turf Spaghetti (Spaghetti alla Mare e Terra)

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 6

¾ lb spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 oz pancetta, diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
10-12 dried birdseye chili peppers, briefly toasted, roughly chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
3 medium fennel bulbs, cored, cut into thin wedges
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups (16 oz) chicken broth
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped, divided
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 (4 oz) cans octopus in olive oil
1 ¼ cups Parmesan Reggiano, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Garlic-infused olive oil, to finish (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and return to pot. 

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until lightly browned. Transfer pancetta to paper towels and set aside. 

To the same skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chilies, and fennel seeds, scraping up any browned pancetta bits, and stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add fennel wedges and sauté until soft, 6 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes, and cook gently for 4 more minutes. Then stir in broth, shrimp, 2 tbsp parsley, and juice of 1 lemon, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by half. 

Add reserved spaghetti to the fennel mixture and stir in octopus and its oil, cooking until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the pancetta, half the parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on plates or in shallow bowls garnished with remaining parsley, parmesan, lemon zest, and drizzled lemon juice and garlic-infused olive oil. 

Nutrition Analysis Per Serving: 550 Calories, 17g fat (5g saturated), 60g carbs, 7g fiber, 55g protein, 45% vitamin A, 50% vitamin C, 40% calcium, 40% iron

Goan-Style Shrimp Curry


This Goan-style shrimp curry recipe is so good that it should be illegal somewhere! I’m not exaggerating, honest. We’ve made this several times and have only made a few tweaks to the recipe below. The fresh curry leaves and sambhaar are what really bring this meal together and if you’re wondering where to acquire them, both are only a Google away! The original recipe is by Suvir Saran and is adapted here on the  James Beard Foundation website.


Goan-Style Shrimp Curry

Time: 25 Minutes
Serves: 4


2 tablespoons lemon juice, from about 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
24 fresh curry leaves, roughly torn
4-8 dried red chiles (4 for mild, 8 for spicy)
1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
1 (3-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon sambhaar or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

To make the marinade, place the lemon juice, kosher salt, ground peppercorns, and cayenne pepper in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and refrigerate.

Set 1/2 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using) and chiles in a medium pot over medium-high heat until the curry leaves start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the ground peppercorns and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the ginger, onion, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with water and stirring whenever the onion and ginger begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the garlic, coriander, and turmeric and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits up from the sides and bottom of the pot, for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the sambhaar or curry powder and cook for 1 minute, and then pour in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a saucey consistency. Add the shrimp and any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled and opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve over rice.