Tiger Prawn Curry Recipe
This delicious Tiger Prawn Curry uses a Madras Curry Masala in a tomato-based sauce and augments the natural flavor of meaty Jumbo-sized Shrimp with pungently aromatic and umami-rich Fermented Shrimp Paste.
Back when I was 8 or 9 years old, my father took me to an Indian restaurant in London and I remember having a curry of giant prawns in a lovely hot curry sauce. Even now, over 50 years later I can still recall the taste of it quite vividly and have tried many times over the years to duplicate the flavor. It took a long time, and good deal of tweaking, but the dish you see pictured above is a pretty passable imitation of that dish from long ago.
Tiger Prawn Curry Ingredient Notes
The dish in my memory had a fairly strong ‘low-tide’ sort of taste and I have recreated that using the dried fermented Shrimp Paste known as Belecan. Above, you can see a tablespoon of the dried paste after being toasted over a stove burner and then crumbled.
If you cannot source Belecan, it can be substituted with Lee Kum Kee Shrimp Sauce, or even an equivalent amount of Anchovy Paste. If none of these are available you can omit this part of the recipe, but the sharply pungent fermented shrimp flavor of any of these products adds a great depth to this dish.
As for the Curry spices, I have used my own Homemade Madras Curry Paste. You can substitute this with any commercial Madras curry paste or powder, or you can also use Patak’s Hot Curry Paste, which I usually have on hand in my kitchen, and which works pretty well here as well.
How to Cook a Tiger Prawn Curry
First, heat a little oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic. When the garlic is just getting soft, add the prawns and sauté just until the shells turn pink and then remove them from the heat. When the shrimp are cool enough, take them out of the pan, remove the shells and set the shrimp aside for now. You can use shelled shrimp if you like but the shells will add extra flavor to the shrimp meat and the cooking oil.
Return the pan with the oil and garlic to the heat and then sauté the onion until it is soft. Add the Curry paste and stir until the aroma rises.
Next, crush the Belecan and add it to the pan. Many recipes call for you to toast the Belecan in a piece of foil over an open flame to release the full flavor but you can omit that step if you wish. Now, add the tomato sauce and turn down the heat. Allow everything to simmer for about twenty or thirty minutes, stirring from time to time, until the sauce reduces a little and the flavors have blended nicely.
When the sauce is ready, turn up the heat to medium once again and add the Prawns and the Scallion. Cook until they are cooked through and everything is nice and hot, then stir in the scallion.
You can serve your Tiger Prawn Curry at this point, but the dish will be much better if you allow it to cool completely overnight and then re-heat it just before you are ready to eat. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to do most of the preparation in advance and will make things a lot easier for you if you are serving it along with several other dishes.
Above, you can see a small portion of the Curry served with a little rice cooked with Cumin seed, peas and a little Lemon Juice.
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Tiger Prawn Curry
- 6 Jumbo Prawns with the shell still on
- 1 ½ cups Tomato Sauce
- ½ cup finely chopped Onion
- 1 tbsp. minced Garlic
- 2 tbsp. Madras Curry Paste
- 1 tbsp. Belacan/Terasi Shrimp Paste
- 1 Scallion green section only, sliced into rings
- Saute the Prawns with the Garlic in a little oil until the Garlic is translucent and the Shrimp shells have turned pink.
- Remove the Shrimp from the pan and, when cool, remove and discard the shells.
- Add the onions to the pan, along with a little more oil, if necessary, saute until softened, then stir in the Curry Paste.
- Add the Tomato Sauce, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes or so, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly.
- Finally, add the Shrimp and Scallion and cook until all is heated through.
- Serve immediately, or allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight to blend and improve the flavors.