Seafood Curry with Chu Chee Curry Paste Recipe

Chu Chee Shrimp/Scallops & Mushrooms in Coconut (Chu Chee Kung/Hoi Shel Gkap Hed)

This Thai curry recipe comes from cooking instructor and cookbook author Kasma Loha-unchit. All of Kasma's recipes are tested at home so that you will be assured of success if you follow the directions. This recipe is one of her husband's favorites!

Note you may also use fish or a combination of prawns, shrimps and or scallops in this recipe.


  • 1 lb large shrimps/prawns, or scallops; or a combination of the two (or fish, see note below)
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, cut in quarters, or use 1 can of whole straw mushrooms, drained
  • 1 cup coconut cream, or the thickest milk on the top of a can of coconut milk
  • 3 fresh red jalapeno or fresno peppers, or 5 red serrano peppers, chopped
  • 7-10 dried red chilies, soaked to soften, then chopped
  • 1 head garlic, or about 12-15 cloves, chopped
  • 4-6 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste (gkapi)
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil (for precooking fresh mushrooms)
  • 2-3 tbsp fish sauce (nam bplah), or to taste (Golden Boy brand is preferred)
  • 2-3 tsp palm or coconut sugar, or to taste
  • 10 small kaffir lime leaves, finely slivered
  • A few sprigs of cilantro


Shell the shrimp/prawns and butterfly. Place in a bowl and add a teaspoon of salt and a few tablespoons of water. Mix well and set aside 15-20 minutes. Then rinse a few times with running water to wash off all the salt. Drain well.

If you are using scallops, rinse and drain well. Make a well-blended paste out of the ingredients from fresh red peppers to shrimp paste either by pounding the chopped ingredients with a large mortar and pestle, or by pureeing them in a blender or food processor. Prepare the other ingredients as indicated.

If using fresh mushrooms, heat a wok and add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, toss in the mushrooms and stir-fry over high heat until they begin to change color. Sprinkle in a little fish sauce to salt and cook until mushrooms have just softened. Remove from wok. (Note there is no need to precook canned straw mushrooms.)

Spoon a cup of coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk into the wok and heat over high heat. Reduce the cream for a few minutes to thicken. Stir in the chilli paste and fry until aromatic and until the oil has clearly separated from the cream. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar. Reduce until the mixture is very thick before adding the prawns and/or scallops and slivered kaffir lime leaves.

Stir-fry over high heat until shrimps/prawns/scallops are nearly cooked. Drain the pre-cooked mushrooms from their juices and toss them or the drained, canned straw mushrooms into the wok. Stir well to reheat and mix in with the chili sauce.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish top with a few sprigs of cilantro. Serve hot with plain steamed jasmine rice.

Notes and Pointers:
This recipe is also great with fish. You can either cook filleted fish, cut in chunks, in the spicy sauce as with the prawns and scallops, in which case you should use a firm meat fish that does not fall apart easily when stir-fried in the wok. Alternatively, you can make the sauce by itself with all the seasonings and spoon over grilled or poached fish.

In Thailand, choo-chee is often made with small flat whole fish. The fish is rubbed with a little salt and fried in oil until it is dry and crispy. The sauce is made very thick and dribbled over the fried fish. Eat the fish crispy fins, tail, and all, except for the center bone.

Recipe Copyright © 1999 Kasma Loha-unchit; Image © 2011 Atthapol Yanyonglert/

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