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Comfort in a bowl: Thai lobster coconut red curry

This is a long-time family favorite. It's my best goal to recreate Passionfish's Red Curry Lobster clay pot and this recipe from Epicurious I found trying to make this at home years ago. Oh, also? It's a nice one-pan dish.

PREP TIME: 20 min

COOK TIME: 30 min

TOTAL TIME: 50+ min (can simmer longer if you like)

Serves: 2-4 people

Dairy-free, gluten free

  • Fresh grated ginger

  • Fresh grated garlic

  • 1 shallot, diced small (or brunoise)

  • 1 red bell pepper, allumette cut/julienned

  • 1 14 oz can lite coconut milk

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • ¾ cup pineapple chunks, sliced thin

  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar

  • 2 limes; 1 juiced, 1 sliced

  • 2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste

  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 Tbsp corn starch

  • 1 Tbsp sliced/shredded Thai basil

  • Paprika

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Salt and pepper

  • lobster tails (15-22 oz, 3-4 depending on preference)

  • cooked rice noodles (or coconut rice) to serve


Want to preface this with the fact that I've been non-reciping this for years now, so be sure to consistently check the flavor of your sauce once you add the curry!

  1. Prep ingredients. For the lobster, prep by butterflying the lobster. I prefer to do this with a pair of butcher scissors, cutting down both top and bottom of the tail. This makes it very easy to not only pull the meat out in one piece, but also has a benefit of showing you where the vein is (and if you're lucky, it'll stay in the shell when you're removing the meat). Once removed from the shell, rinse under cold water and cut the tails into bite-sized pieces (I do this with my scissors, too, it doesn't need to be precise or clean cube cuts).

  2. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp oil (I prefer coconut oil) on medium heat.

  3. Once the oil is shimmery and the pan hot, throw in the red bell pepper. Stir/toss to coat the pepper in oil.

  4. Once the peppers are starting to soften, sprinkle with cayenne pepper and continue to let cook.

  5. When the peppers are soft and starting to caramelize, remove from heat and set aside in a separate bowl.

  6. In the same hot pan, sprinkle 1 Tbsp of brown sugar on the pan and turn the heat to medium-low.

  7. Toss the pineapple chunks in and spread to maximize surface area.

  8. Once the pineapple and sugar starts to caramelize, add in 2 tsp fresh ginger (I'm a Gourmet Garden stir-in paste loyalists, sorry!) and sprinkle the pineapple with paprika. Add 1 Tbsp of water in the pan to deglaze and stir the pineapple to combine and coat.

  9. When the pineapple is glazed and brown, remove from heat in a separate bowl and set aside.

  10. In the same hot pan add the shallot. When they start to sweat, stir around to start scraping up the brown caramelized sauce sticking on the bottom of the pan.

  11. Add in the garlic and 1 tsp of grated ginger. Stir until aromatic.

  12. Pour the coconut milk into the pan (which should still be medium-low). Stir constantly to incorporate everything in the pan into the coconut milk.

  13. Add remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and 1 Tbsp of curry paste to the pan to start. Combine well.

  14. **At this point, you'll want to start taste-testing routinely to adjust to your preferences. You might want to adjust (want it sweeter? add more brown sugar; want it less spicy? add lime juice; want it to have more depth with more sour? add more fish sauce; more spicy? more curry! more cayenne!). Bring the sauce to a simmer and agitate every few minutes. (This is a great time to focus on taking care of your rice/rice noodles/starch as you're nearly done with the dish).

  15. In a small container (I use the leftover coconut milk can), add cornstarch and 1/2 cup water and mix to make a slurry. Quickly pour the slurry into the sauce and blend it in.

  16. Ensure you've got a palatable sauce that tastes to your liking here. After 8-10 minutes of simmering, add the bell pepper and half of the pineapple into the sauce and stir.

  17. At the last minute, throw the lobster into the sauce and stir to coat.

  18. After 1 minute, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. You'll want to continue to let the contents of the hot pan poach the lobster, but you don't want to overcook it, so we remove it from the heat.

  19. After 3-4 minutes the meal is ready to serve. Top with remaining pineapple, Thai basil, and a lime wedge.

That's it! I realize it reads like a bunch of steps, but that's because I try to make this as easy as possible for someone who doesn't feel comfortable experimenting with new recipes or foods. If I were sharing this with my dad, it'd really distill down to: sauté the bell peppers in spice, then candy the pineapple with ginger, then build the sauce in the pan and simmer before tossing the lobster in at the end.

I realize that this is my first recipe I've shared in almost two years (yikes!), but that's the gist of it. I want to make cooking approachable for people. I love food, I love cooking, I love getting to play around with modifying things I find to make something I love. I call this a comfort meal of mine, but really, in any meal I make I find great comfort. There is comfort for me in the kitchen, comfort in the reward of enjoying something I cook, and comfort in food that is just delightful. This is really one of those never-a-bad-time meals. It's tropical enough to enjoy in hot weather, it's spicy and warm for those drizzly cold nights.

  1. Always, always, always mise en place your recipe. If you haven't yet, julienne your bell pepper and slice the pineapple.

  2. If you want to make your own red curry paste here is a fantastic recipe - otherwise I just use a blend of Thai Kitchen's red curry paste and dry spices (cayenne, paprika, Morton's red Thai curry spices).


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