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.