Thai Foods Ep.7

Thai Pineapple Curry with Shrimp

by Thomas M. Tillman

When It's Okay to Use Canned

I do not like canned pineapple. Generally I find them flavourless. So when I want pineapple, I will usually spend the time to cut up a whole one. However, I ended up with canned pineapple out of panic, so I had to come up with a way to use it in a way that will still be delicious. Then it occurred to me that a pineapple curry is the best place for it, because the flavour of the curry is so strong that the pineapple does not need to be perfect for it to end up as a delicious dish!

The Most Important Step: Squeeze the Pineapple!

The one step that might be surprising, but is SO important, is for you to squeeze the pineapple pieces (whether you use fresh or canned). This is a key step that will "de-saturate" the pineapple pieces from their juice, making room for curry sauce to penetrate and mingle so that it doesn't feel like you're eating a curry and then suddenly interrupted by a bite of pineapple! This is key to creating a "cohesive" flavour in the dish. I believe one reason that many people dislike pineapple in savoury dishes is because it doesn't feel like the sweet-tart pineapple belongs in the otherwise savoury food.


  • 1 can pineapple chunks, packed in juice NOT in syrup (or about 1¾ cups fresh pineapple)
  • 4-5 Tbsp red curry paste (or to taste)
  • 1½ cups coconut milk
  • ½ cup water or unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp dried shrimp (optional), finely chopped or ground into a fluff in a coffee grinder
  • 7-8 makrut lime leaves (kaffir lime)
  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 tsp chopped palm sugar (or brown or white sugar)
  • About 1 Tbsp cooking tamarind (what is tamarind and how to make it?)
  • Half a red bell pepper, julienned
  • 350g medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Jasmine rice for serving


  1. Drain pineapple from the juice and place the chunks in a mixing bowl. (You can discard the juice or mix it with some soda water for a sparkling treat!)
  2. Take 2-3 pieces of pineapple at a time in your hand and squeeze the juice out of them. Do not drain this juice; just leave it in the bowl. Do this for all the pineapple pieces; you want the pineapple to give up the juice so they can absorb the curry sauce.
  3. In a medium pot, bring ½ cup coconut milk to a boil over medium heat, then add red curry paste and stir to mix with the coconut milk. Reduce the heat to medium low and keep cooking, stirring frequently, until the paste is very thick and you may start to see coconut oil separating out of the paste. Once the oil has started to appear, keep stirring the paste for a few more minutes, deglazing with a little bit of coconut milk if it's sticking too much to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, pineapple and the juice you squeezed out, dried shrimp, and ½ cup of water or stock. Tear up makrut lime leaves into big chunks, twisting as you tear to bruise the leaves and allow the aromatic oils to come out, and add them to the pot. Simmer on medium low heat for at least 5 minutes to allow flavours to mingle.
  5. Add fish sauce, sugar, and tamarind to taste; how much you need will depend on the flavour of the pineapple, so add less and then taste and adjust as needed. You want the curry sauce to have just a little bit of sweetness and tartness to match the pineapple.
  6. Add bell peppers and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add shrimp and cook for 1 minute or just until fully cooked, then remove from heat.
  8. Taste and adjust final seasoning (pro tip: you can never taste too many times when you cook!) and serve with jasmine rice. Enjoy!