Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coconut Shrimp Curry

In some ways this shoot was the opposite of the Kefta shoot. There, the food was great and the plating and lighting were bad. Here, the plating and lighting were great, but the food, though good, wasn't quite to my taste.

Spicy Shrimp Curry

It isn't that I don't like curry - I love curry. It's just that I don't like sweet curries, and this one definitely had some sweetness to it.

One thing I'm learning in this process is that the tastiest meals aren't always the prettiest, and the prettiest meals aren't always the tastiest. Some you win, and some you lose.

The Food (Jhan)

Indeed, you win some and you lose some. I thought this curry was great but Tony was thrown by the sweetness of this dish, and even though he agreed that the flavor was good, he gave it a thumbs down overall.

Here's the deal - I prepared a coconut milk curry with shrimp. For sweetness and balance, this recipe called for the addition of one green apple. I thought the apple was fine and actually added to the dish, but Tony felt that the apple slices in the curry were just plain weird. Without the apple the curry would have been good anyway, and I think I could have substituted a potato and about a teaspoon of brown sugar to round out the flavors of the spices.

It's clearly a matter of personal taste but I will say that this recipe was easy and created a spicy yet smooth red curry sauce -perfect for shrimp or chicken. The curry was also very colorful and eye appealing with chopped tomatoes and frozen peas and carrots. This stuff is good! I will definitely prepare this dish again sans the apple.

Spicy Shrimp Curry

Here's the recipe for the sauce base, you can add raw shrimp,chicken pieces or seared firm tofu for protein and an apple or other fruit and whatever vegetables you like.

Sauce base:
1tbsp good quality curry powder
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk ( 14 oz.)
1 chopped onion
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp grated ginger
vegetable oil
Heat oil in heavy skillet. Saute onions garlic and ginger until soft and slightly caramelized. Add spices, cook until fragrant. Next add vegetables of your choice (see below). Cook until tender. Add coconut milk stir and bring to a simmer. Add protein and cook through in simmering sauce. Top with chopped cilantro and serve over steaming hot rice.

1 thinly sliced potato or 1 sliced green apple
2-3 tomatoes seeded and chopped,
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 lb peeled whole shrimp or cubed chicken breast or cubed pan seared firm tofu
Above based on recipe from


This was a stewy curry, and I knew it would be, so I used a couple of nice square bowls for the curry (I've discovered that having two of your entree in the photo adds some depth and interest to the image). I put the rice in a nice round rice bowl, and put it all on a simple warm toned place mat. I carefully picked out the best shrimp and put them on top of the dish to act as the main attention point.

Spicy Shrimp Curry

Lighting and Photography

Spicy Shrimp Curry Lighting
I wanted a pretty soft light for this shoot, but I wanted a very bright background, so I bumped the key light (placed to the rear and shot through a reflector) up a stop or two over the fills. The front fill was too strong when shot directly through the reflector, so I turned it around and bounced it off the wall to soften it even more. I added a flash (bounced off a sheet) to the left of the dish and a reflector to the right for additional fill.

Spicy Shrimp Curry

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