Curried shrimp is a very flavorful dish consisting of shrimp in a curry sauce served over rice. Some consists solely of shrimp in a curry sauce, while others have other ingredients, most commonly onions and mushrooms. Curry is commonly thought of as a very spicy hot seasoning, but in fact, while some curries are fiery hot, others are very mild. Shrimp calls for a mild to moderate heat; the fiercely hot curries are best used with meat from land animals.
A seasoning made by mixing a number of different seasonings and spices, such as coriander, turmeric and cumin, curry is a staple of South Asian cooking that’s spread to other cuisines worldwide. There are many different types of curries; some are mild and subtle, others are robust and hearty. Spicy heat is just one of the many components of a curry’s flavor, but it’s one of its more critical elements. Many cooks keep a few different curries in their kitchens and experiment with mixing them to achieve the right blend of flavor and spiciness.
Prepared curry is packaged and sold either as a powder or as a paste; either is acceptable when preparing curried shrimp. The paste often includes a thickening agent, and is usually dissolved in chicken, shrimp or vegetable broth to make the sauce. Another approach to making the curry sauce is to prepare a standard white sauce from a roux, and then sprinkle curry powder into the sauce until it’s reached the desired flavor.
The sauce for curried shrimp should be at least the consistency of pancake batter, but it can be thicker. This generally isn’t a problem if the sauce is prepared from a roux. If the sauce is prepared by dissolving curry paste in a broth, it will be thickened somewhat because there’s usually flour in the curry paste. In the case that the flavor is just right but the consistency is too watery, adding more paste for thickening will make the flavor too strong. The appropriate first aid for such a sauce is to make a quick roux with equal parts of flour and oil; the exact quantities are dependent on the amount of sauce and how much additional thickening is required.
Ideally, the shrimp should be fresh, headless, completely peeled and deveined, no more than 40 to the pound (88 per kilogram), and preferably 21-30/lb (46-66/kg). A good rule of thumb is to include 1/3-1/2 lb (150-225 grams) of shrimp per person; the amount of shrimp can be stretched, if absolutely necessary, by cutting them in half lengthwise. They can be marinated in a dry white wine before cooking, or rubbed with a few tablespoons of curry powder. Shrimp cook very quickly, and should be sautéed and added to the sauce as the very last step in the process, immediately before serving. The cook should never press shrimp down with a spatula to hasten cooking; this squeezes out the juices and imparts a tough, rubbery texture.
Usually, curried shrimp is served on a bed of freshly cooked white rice. Vegetables and other side dishes should be served in separate plates. A salad can be prepared to accompany the meal. The best beverage to serve with curried shrimp is ice cold beer; if wine is served, it should be robust enough the stand up to the spiciness of the curry. Two such wines are sauvignon blanc and Gewürztraminer.
Curried shrimp is an excellent leftover. It’s even a favorite breakfast in some households, the morning after it is served. One popular presentation is to serve slices of hard cooked eggs on toast, over which is poured a generous portion of curried shrimp.