A lemony, thin coconut sauce coats coral coloured salmon, mussels that tastes like the sea and sweet fresh shrimps. This light and citrusy coconut curry with its morsels of seafood is best enjoyed with simply flavoured basmati rice.

I was sitting on the plane twiddling my thumbs. We were soon to land and I had run out of options of things to do.  No point starting on another movie. I start channel surfing. There must be something on the food channel. Jamie Oliver’s Feast (or was it Festival?) was an option. He’s not bad. I sit up when he starts making Kerelan Curry. I like coconut based curries. It was pretty much an ordinary curry except he added coloured peppers and that piqued my interest. No Indian restaurant has ever served me coloured peppers in their curries. As soon as Jamie finishes chopping up the peppers, they start collecting the headsets. Just my luck. I watch the naturally hyper animated chef and fast talker move his mouth with rapid speed and bounce his torso repeatedly left and right while wielding a knife. All in complete silence. I start to grin. It was quite hilarious, very much like watching a silent movie gone a bit wrong.

After all that, I was inspired to come up with this Citrusy Seafood Curry for one of my upcoming year-end festive parties. I know there will be one too many roasts, turkeys, honey baked hams, potatoes, etcetera served this season. This meal accompanied with basmati rice flavoured with just a touch of cinnamon, ginger and black mustard seeds would be a welcome change. I can’t wait to serve it.

Citrusy Seafood Curry

Prep: 30 minutes 
Cook: 20 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves: ~4
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? No


3 Tablespoons neutral tasting
0.88 oz (25 g) ginger, cut into rough strips
2 or more whole dried chillies*
5.64 oz (160 g) purple onions, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon garlic, diced small
1 lemon grass bruised
1 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup mussels liquor**
1 and 1/2 cup (12 oz) (355 ml) coconut milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
8.81 oz (250 g) prawns without shells
14.1 oz (400 g) packet of cooked mussels in shells (about 6 mussels)***
19.4 oz (550 g) salmon fillet cut into two lengthwise
10.58 oz (300 g) mixture of red and yellow peppers/capsicum, sliced into 2″ (5cm) x 0.78″ (2 cm) strips.
1 and 1/2 lemons, juice only
4 kaffir lime/limau purut leaves
3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 handful chopped parsley/cilantro for sprinkling
3 red chillies sliced diagonally (optional)
* Depends on hot much ‘heat’ you want. If you break up the dried chillies, you will get more ‘heat’ out of it. I leave mine whole. I am a chilli wimp.
** Obtained from the packet of cooked mussels in shells. Top up with water if there isn’t enough mussels liquor.
*** Discard top shell and keep bottom shell with mussel. Reserve mussels liquor.


1. In a wide pot, heat the oil on medium high.

2. Saute the ginger, dried chilli(s) and onions for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add garlic and lemon grass and fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add the mustards seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant. Use caution here as mustards seeds burn easily.
4. Add the red and yellow peppers and saute 2 minutes.
5. Set the salmon fillets, skin side up on the bed of vegetables.
6. Add 1 cup mussels liquor and just 1 teaspoons salt out of the 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt called for. Reserve the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt should you need to adjust the seasoning later.
7. Lower the heat to medium low. Cover and cook until salmon is 1/2 cooked about 7 minutes. If you press on the thickest part of the salmon it should feel wobbly.
8. Add the coconut milk and shake the pan to mix. Do not stir or your might break up the salmon. Cover.

9. Once it starts to simmer in about 2 minutes, add the shrimps, lemon juice, kaffir lime/limau purut leaves, tomatoes and sliced chillies (if using).

10. Once it comes to a boil, quickly embed the ready cooked mussels in the sauce and shake the pot to get some sauce over the mussels. You could use a ladle but be gentle and careful not to break into the salmon.
11. Turn off and remove from the burner. Taste and add the extra 1/2 teaspoon of salt if required.
12. Plate immediately and do not leave it in the pot as residual heat from the pot can overcook the seafood.

To serve
1. Remove the fillets first from the pot and transfer to a plate skin side up. Set aside.
2. Discard the kaffir lime/limau purut leaves and lemon grass as it gets in the way of eating.
3. Pour the rest of the curry into your serving vessel.
4. Remove the skins off the fillets. Discard. Gently tear the fillets into large chunks and transfer them into the curry.
5. Sprinkle chopped parsley over and if you wish, decorate the dish with lemon halves and sliced red chillies.
6. This seafood curry should taste refreshingly tart and lemony so adjust your seasonings accordingly.


This Citrusy Seafood Curry is ideal for serving at parties
Curries really do not have to be served hot. In reality, they are served at room temperature.  For me, this fits the bill for party food. As there is no real need to rush to serve it immediately, I can still leisurely enjoy a sip of my drink with my guests. There is no pressure to get dinner to the table in a hurry. To balance out the curry being served at room temperature, I do want to serve my rice piping hot. That is easy enough as the rice would have been pre-cooked and can be kept warm on the lowest heat setting for at least an hour.

Complete the meal by serving these appetisers

Nothing else is served with this dinner. It is just the Citrusy Seafood Curry and lightly flavoured Basmati rice. There are vegetables in the curry so that’s good enough for me to consider it as a balanced meal. I would however, serve a casual Indian appetiser of Tomato Chutney with my Vadai, Gluten Free Savoury Snack. The dip can be made 2 days ahead and the batter for the Vadai can be frozen 6 weeks ahead.

If you are not up to making the Tomato Chutney, an easier dip to try would be my Mint Chutney. You whizz all the ingredients for the Mint Chutney in a food processor and you are done. Yup, that simple. It can be made ahead too. Either of these dips tastes equally good with a bag of tortilla chips. Easy, easy, party food.

The last dip in the picture above is a Coconut Chutney, it is very good but as my main meal is coconut based, I would save serving this for another meal. Besides serving the dips with Vadai or tortilla chips, you could serve them with sliced red and yellow peppers, cucumbers and celery sticks. You decide which combination would work best for your dinner and your diners. It is party food but really, it is casual party food.