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~ Jamaican-Style Shrimp and Scallop Coconut Curry ~

IMG_8966I'm no expert, but, I do know just enough about Jamaican cooking to NOT be dangerous.  I know that a dish consisting of ackee fruit and salt cod is their National Dish.  Alas, even if I could get my hands on an ackee here in the states, I wouldn't touch it. Parts of the ackee are toxic, so, my better judgement tells me to leave that recipe to the experts.  And, while I love salt cod and fresh cod too, I like seafood (like crab, shrimp, scallops and lobster) better, so, I'm confidant I can create a luscious Jamaican-style dinner tonight that's well within my culinary wheelhouse.     

6a0120a8551282970b01a73dae3659970dIn case you've never had the opportunity to try Jamaican fare, from barbecue to jerk, the Jamaicans make some of the best fish, chicken, pork, beef and lamb dishes in the world. They make some magnificent curries too, so, tonight, for our N'or Easter snowstorm dinner, I decided to make a Jamaican seafood curry -- shrimp and scallops are always in my freezer.  It's easy to prepare, full of great Caribbean flavor, and, the only "special ingredient" you'll need:

Jamaican-Style Curry Powder!

Jamaican curry powder contains allspice and Indian-style curry powder does not.  Indian curry powder contains cardamom and mace, Jamaican curry powder does not.  All Jamaican curries contain coconut milk, but only South Indian curries do.  Jamaican curries tend to be spicy and sweet while Indian curries are mild and slightly tart.

"Curry" is a catch-all English (British) term used in Western cultures to denote stewike dishes from Southern and Southeast Asia, as well as, Africa and the Caribbean.  Curry powder (the commercially marketed blend of spices we buy in our American markets) doesn't really exist in any of these places.  Hand-made pulverized blends of dried spices, the amounts of which vary to suit the palate of each family or cook are prepared in a mortar and pestle.  Dishes called curry are relatively easy to prepare and can contain meat, poultry, fish or shellfish.  Seasonal vegetables can be included, or, the dish can be made of vegetables (vegetarian).

This spicy, delightful, snowstorm meal is just perfect:

IMG_89071 1/2  pounds peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp (26/30 count), tails off (about 2 pounds unpeeled shrimp to start)

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops

1 1/2-2  cups each: green bell pepper, red bell pepper and sweet onion, cut into 1/4" strips, strips cut into halves

1  cup chopped cilantro leaves + additional leaves for garnish

6  tablespoons hot or mild Jamaican-style curry powder

1  tablespoon garlic paste

2  tablespoons ginger paste

1  teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/2  teaspoon Scotch bonnet pepper powder (optional) (Note:  Jamaicans typically use fresh, Scotch Bonnet chilies for extra heat.  I don't often have them on hand, but, the slightly citrusy flavor of the incendiary powder, which I keep in my pantry, is a marvelous substitute.)

2  14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes, very well-drained

2  14-ounce cans coconut milk that has been well-shaken prior to opening

3-4  tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil, for preparing skillet

5  cups uncooked basmati rice, or, 10 cups steamed basmati rice, cooked via your favorite method (Note:  I use an electric rice cooker, and, I steam the rice before I start prepping.)

IMG_8936 IMG_8936 IMG_8944 IMG_8944~Step 1. Using the measuring cup that came with the rice cooker, measure and place 5 cups uncooked basmati rice, followed by 5 cups cold water, into the steamer container.  Stir.  Close the lid and turn the steamer on to steam the rice -- this will take 18-20 minutes.  When machine signals the rice is done, open the lid and rake through it to separate the grains -- I use my vintage pasta fork to rake.  Close the lid and set aside to keep warm while preparing the curry.

IMG_8910 IMG_8910 IMG_8910~ Step 2.  Prep the green and red bell peppers, onion, and cilantro, placing them in a large bowl as you work.  Add the spices: the curry powder, garlic paste, ginger paste, salt and Scotch bonnet pepper powder.  Using a large spoon, give the mixture a thorough stir, to coat all the vegetables in all the spices. 

IMG_8922 IMG_8922 IMG_8922 IMG_8930 IMG_8930 IMG_8930~Step 3. Add the well-drained diced tomatoes and stir again.  Add the coconut milk and stir again. Add the shrimp and scallops and stir again to thoroughly combine.  Set aside, 10-15 minutes (30 maximum), to give flavors time to marry.

IMG_8934 IMG_8956 IMG_8956~Step 4. Heat the vegetable oil in an 8-quart chef's pan with straight, deep sides over medium-high.  Add the seafood mixture to skillet, increase heat to high, and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 5-6 full minutes. Turn heat off and allow mixture to rest on the stovetop 3-5 minutes, to finish cook the seafood -- sauce will be nicely thickened, the seafood will be perfectly cooked.  Portion steamed rice into 6-8 soup- or pasta-type bowls and ladle steaming-hot curry over rice.  Serve immediately.

Serve steaming-hot seafood curry ladled over rice.  

IMG_8974Jamaican-Style Shrimp and Scallop Coconut Curry:  Recipe yields 6-8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: electric rice steamer; cutting board; chef's knife; colander or strainer; large bowl; large spoon; 8-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3b9e210200dCook's Note: Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of serving cheese or cheese sauces with fish or seafood, but, there are exceptions to every rule, so, for those who, like myself, do appreciate the divine goodness of dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese, you've gotta try my creamy-dreamy Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta with succulent, butter-poached lobster meat added to it.  In the event you've never heard of rasta pasta, you might want to try my ~ Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Pasta Pasta ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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