the appetizer:

The Caribbean includes islands and countries as diverse as Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Antilles, Guadeloupe and Martinique, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Virgin Islands. Common foods like seafood, chicken and coconut, as well as recipes like jerk and callaloo, unite these islands into a heterogeneous culinary paradise.

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The Caribbean

Curried Coconut Shrimp
with Sweet Potato Fries


Serves 4 as an appetizer

This is a classic Caribbean dish that incorporates a number of ancestral cuisines. The curry represents the Indian influence, the sweet potato the African influence, and the coconut milk the local Amerindian influence. You can double the quantities of the ingredients for this dish, and serve it as a main course with boiled rice molded into pretty shapes.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into long flat ribbons
Oil for deep-frying
Salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
1/4 cup (59 mL) olive oil
2 pounds (907 g) large shrimp (green prawns), cleaned, peeled, and deveined
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
1 Scotch bonnet chile (chilli), seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
2 cups (473 mL) coconut milk
1 small bunch cilantro (fresh coriander), leaves only, finely chopped,
   plus additional leaves for garnish

To make the sweet potato fries, pour oil for deep-frying into a large saucepan and heat it over a medium heat until it is hot but not smoking. Season the sweet potato planks with salt and pepper and deep-fry them in batches until cooked and crisp, about 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Keep hot to serve with the shrimp when ready.

To make the shrimp, pour the 1/4 cup oil into a heavy-based saucepan or skillet over a medium heat. Toss in the shrimp, garlic, bell pepper, and chile and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the curry powder. Stir well and cook for a further minute, then add the coconut milk. Season with salt to taste, turn the heat up to high, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is much reduced and thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and remove from heat. Serve immediately with the sweet potato fries, generously garnished with cilantro leaves.


Dorinda's Taste of The Caribbean
African-Influenced Recipes from the Islands
By Dorinda Hafner
$16.95 paper, 160 pages with illustrations throughout
Ten Speed Press, 1996
ISBN: 089815-836-2
Reprinted with permission

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This page modified January 2007