Shrimp with Poached Pears and Curry Sauce

Prawns with Poached Pears and Curry Sauce Recipe

Marinating shrimp in a little vodka adds sweetness to the shrimp and improves the flavor. This recipe has been influenced by the cuisines of Southeast Asia, where curry powder is often mixed with coconut milk to give richness to a finished dish. Serve with white rice.–Susanna Foo

LC On Cleaning Shrimp Note

This cleaning trick seems pretty brilliant. In the words of author Susanna Foo, “In order to make frozen shrimp taste better, I refresh them by cleaning them with salt and washing them in lots of water before cooking. Peel and devein the raw shrimp. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Toss them well in the salt and quickly rub it in with your fingers so that it coats the shrimp. Place the bowl under a faucet and immediately rinse them well, running cold water over them until the water becomes clear and all the salt has been washed away.” Excuse us, we’re on our way to the seafood counter so we can try this…

Prawns with Poached Pears and Curry Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 6


  • For the curry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Dash store-bought or homemade Tabasco sauce
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • About 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt (optional)
  • For the prawns
  • 2 pounds prawns or large shrimp (about 36 shrimp), peeled, deveined, and cleaned with salt
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 large firm, ripe pears (any variety)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mild vegetable oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, julienned ginger
  • 1 tablespoon julienned lemon zest, preferably organic
  • 1 cup curry sauce
  • Coarse or kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond slices


  • Make the curry sauce
  • 1. Mix the cornstarch and coconut milk in a small bowl; set aside.
  • 2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook over high heat until the onion is golden, about 4 minutes. Add the curry powder, white pepper, and Tabasco. Cook over high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and the coconut milk mixture. Mix well and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until the cornstarch no longer has a raw taste and the sauce is lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and cool. When cool, purée the sauce in a blender or a food processor. Taste to correct the seasonings, adding the salt if needed. Note: The sauce can be prepared 3 to 4 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.
  • Prepare the prawns
  • 3. Pat the shrimp dry. Mix the vodka and the beaten egg white in a large bowl, add the shrimp and toss to combine. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, turning occasionally; drain. Set aside.
  • 4. Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Cut each pear half into 6 to 8 thin slices and place in a small bowl.
  • 5. Mix the water and lemon juice and pour over the pears; let steep for 5 minutes. Transfer the pears and all the liquid to a large saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and poach the pears for about 3 minutes, or until they are just tender. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside.
  • 6. Heat the oil in a large skillet until it is hot but not smoking. Add the shrimp and cook in 2 batches, stirring occasionally, until they just turn pink, about 3 minutes.
  • 7. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat with the remaining shrimp. Remove and discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan. Add the shallots, ginger and lemon zest to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until the shallots are golden.
  • 8. Add the curry sauce and the poached pear slices. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, tossing in the sauce until they are hot and well coated. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • 9. Remove the shrimp and pears with a slotted spoon and divide among 6 plates. Top with any sauce remaining in the skillet. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Amy Goodwin

Sep 21, 1999

I love curry! I make Indian and Thai curries all the time, and I’m thoroughly enthralled with this recipe. What makes it even better is that you can make the curry sauce 2 days ahead. Also the poached pears with the lemon zest lend a slight citrus and sweet taste that would pair nicely with a sauvignon blanc.

Deb Drinker

Sep 21, 1999

The dish was very good and had a lot of depth to it. The shrimp needs to cooked less time than the recipe calls for so it won’t be overdone. Once you have everything ready, it takes no time at all and has more flavor than other shrimp curries that I’ve made.

Shelly Sinton

Sep 21, 1999

This dish is lip-smacking wonderful. The fragrant curry sauce, sweet pears, and tender prawns were a perfect match for a side of my coconut rice. In addition, this is a quick and easy dish to prepare, perfect for company or a romantic dinner for two.

This dish was super rich with flavor and aroma, and the Southeast Asian flavors really resonated. The curry sauce cannot stand alone, the sweetness contributed by the pear was essential to round it out perfectly. The shrimp, pear, and curry flavors worked together well. Because of the intense flavors, I would recommend serving smaller portions as an appetizer. This is a recipe for someone who loves to cook—you get to marinade, juice, sauté, poach, zest, chop, toast, peel, and purée—all in one recipe. What’s good about this recipe is that you can make the curry sauce ahead of time, which makes the recipe much less time consuming for a week night.

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