That Zest Life

Coconut Risotto with Curried Shrimp

At this point, you should know that I love Thai curry. It’s one of my most craved, most ordered takeout, most often made when I need to be cozy dishes. You’ve seen it as a Curry Chicken Noodle Soup and also the best ever Thai Curry with Shrimp. For tips and tricks on picking the best curry paste or fish sauce, check out those posts. When I was feeling a need for curry this weekend, I knew I needed to mix it up. Coconut Risotto with Curried Shrimp deconstructs a traditional curry and gives it a creamy Italian flare by using arborio rice. You get so much more distinct flavor by giving each ingredient it’s own flavor profile. You guys. This is so good. I’m already excited for lunch and REALLY excited for you to try it yourself!

How to Make Coconut Risotto

For some reason risotto gets a bad rap as a hard dish to make. It really just depends on your definition of “hard”. I tend to think of hard as being easy to mess up and ruin. That’s not how risotto is though! It’s just time consuming because you actually have to stand there and stir the entire time it’s cooking. It’s worth the effort though and I highly recommend calling a loved one to pass the time.

Shimp risotto

Risotto Broth

As someone whose stomach really hates dairy, I’m always looking for an alternative that doesn’t make you think “this isn’t as good as the real thing”. Coconut milk is often recommended as a substitution, but it doesn’t always live up. For this dish, it’s honestly perfect and I like it better than traditional risotto! The use of coconut milk makes it naturally creamier and a tad bit sweet.

As you’re creating your own broth, you’re going to want to infuse flavors into the coconut milk or your coconut risotto won’t have any dimension. Traditional flavors in a Thai curry are lemongrass, ginger, kefir lime leaves, and fish sauce. I really wanted the risotto to have a bright flavor to balance out curry party of the dish, so I added all of those elements to my broth, with a substitution of a lime for kefir lime leaves. If there are flavors in there you don’t like then don’t add them to the broth. They will really stand out and you don’t want to dislike your final product after so much time is invested.

One thing to note is that coconut milk is naturally very creamy. Arborio rice when cooked into risotto is also naturally very creamy. So if you feel like you’d prefer a lighter risotto, add a can of coconut milk and skim off the cream of all the cans. It will help tone down the creaminess of the dish. I personally really like the cream level to this coconut curry. I don’t get to indulge in things like mac and cheese so I’m here for some richness!

Don’t forget to taste it before you start using it!! There is no going back before you start. The first time I ever made risotto I used vegetable stock and I didn’t taste it ahead of time. Well, that’s the day I learned that I don’t like vegetable stock and that’s what my entire dish tasted like. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned, so taste your broth first!!

coconut lemongrass risotto

Just Keep Stirring

This is the part that is “hard”. You just have to keep stirring. Grab a ladle and add a bit of broth at a time (which should continue simmering) and watch the rice soak it up. If you let it sit it will start to burn, which is not a great look or taste. I really like just using a plain ol’ silicone spatula because it helps get all of the risotto moving much easier than a standard spatula. The red handle also means it’s good for high heat. I’ve had mine for years and it looks like new.

Taste after 20 minutes or so to see where you are with the cook. It’ll be crunchy if it’s not done, although you don’t want to create mush! Don’t set a timer, just taste a bit as you go! A bit of crunchy rice never hurt anyone.

lemongrass risotto with shrimp

Curried Shrimp and Vegetables

This part is easy. Roasting vegetables is my favorite way to eat them and all the same rules apply here as in other recipes that call for them. Cut everything as uniformly as possible depending on cook time. Carrots take longer than eggplant so cut the eggplant a bit larger. Get everything evenly coated around the vegetables. A mouthful of curry paste just doesn’t taste very good. I used my hands to mix to really get everything perfectly covered without smashing the delicate eggplant.

For the shrimp, you can just use the same bowl since it’s pretty much the same ingredients. For this recipe, I used Patagonian shrimp. They are really large and have a taste similar to lobster and they were on sale at my local QFC for just over $5 per pound (normally around $14). They start off pink, so they’re fairly easy to cook. If you use a normal style shrimp, just watch the color as they broil. Once they’re pink and still look wet, pull them! Nothing worse than rubbery shrimp.

All that’s left is to top the risotto off and serve with a squeeze of lime! This dish turned out EXACTLY like I was hoping and I really want you to try this for yourself! It’s 7am and I’m already counting the hours until lunch so I can eat leftovers. Feel free to ask any questions below and if you make it, don’t forget to rate it so everyone will know how delicious this is! Enjoy your zest life this week!

Coconut Risotto with Curried Shrimp

This dish deconstructs a Thai curry and fuses it with a creamy Italian risotto. The spiciness of the curry balances out the creamy and light risotto. A perfect dairy free risotto option when you're craving something comforting and flavorful.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Thai
Keyword: curry risotto, dairy free risotto, lemongrass risotto, thai curry paste
Servings: 4 servings


  • Large pot
  • Roasting pans
  • Large bowl
  • Large skillet


For the Risotto

  • 3 cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into thirds and smashed
  • 1 4inch piece of ginger, cut into chunks and smashed
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 whole shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

For the Shrimp

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 tbsp Thai curry of choice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, juiced and zested
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

For the Vegetables

  • 1 whole eggplant, sliced
  • 1 whole onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 whole carrots, cut into thick strips
  • 1 whole red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimed
  • cup Thai curry of choice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ¼ cup avocado oil


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a large pot, combine the coconut milk, water, lemongrass, ginger pieces, fish sauce and lime. Bring to a simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes or once you can taste the flavor of lemongrass and ginger in the stock.
  • Meanwhile, cut all of the vegetables and toss in a large bowl with the curry paste, fish sauce and avocado oil. Spread on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • In the bowl you used for the vegetables, combine all ingredients for the shrimp: shrimp, curry paste, fish sauce, lime and avocado oil. Set aside.
  • Place the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • In a large skillet, heat avocado oil over medium high heat and add the shallots. Saute until translucent and then add the rice. Toast the rice until translucent, but do not brown.
  • ½ cup at a time, add the coconut broth into the rice and stir continuously until fully absorbed. Continue adding coconut broth and stirring until rice is fully cooked, about 30 minutes.
  • Once the vegetables are done, add the shrimp on top and broiled until fully cooked. Large shrimp will take about 4 minutes, so adjust timing depending on the size of your shrimp.
  • Serve shrimp and vegetables over risotto with a squeeze of lime over the top.

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