Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thai-style Fish Curry

Soooo...I haven't really blogged in awhile for a number of reasons: busy, wasn't feeling inspired, and sheisty things happening in the personal life. But I'm not getting into all of that here. After having a really bad last 4 days, I needed something cathartic to ease my multifaceted moods, and I had been thinking lately that fish is needed. I really don't eat much fish, not by choice, but because my husband doesn't care for it. He was a victim of straight cod liver oil force feedings as a child and needs a 12-step program for his recovery. Fish is an important source of DHA and omega-3 fats which we as Americans collectively do not get enough of; omega-3 and omega-6 intake should be a healthy balance of 1:1 ratio, but as a nation that consumes entirely too many refined foods and vegetable/soy oils, that balance is sadly disproportionate because we consume too many omega-6 fats (believe me, this is bad - don't use veggie oils. See my link at the bottom for Weston Price Foundation for more research on this). Also, fish happens to be good for and very necessary to fertility, which I have been reading about for the past several months (see my link for Nina Planck below).

Fast forward to yesterday, and after closing my ears to my husband's protests, I ventured forth to a trusted local fishmonger, Mr. Bill's Seafood. I felt virginal, not having bought fish in years, staring at the surprisingly wide selection of wild-caught offerings (which is what I want, as it's healthier than farmed, even with the minute amount of methyl mercury and PCBs - the benefits far outweigh the detractors). I had already swiped a pound of frozen wild-caught Alaskan sock-eye salmon fillets at the farmers' market, so I only picked up a tad over a pound of wild-caught red snapper fillets (4), skin on, scales removed. I wondered all evening how to prepare this introductory fish meal for my husband so that it would be least offensive to his tastebuds. A light bulb went on: fish curry. We both love curries, Thai and Indian, and I felt like this was a safe place to start. I made my husband taste the curry before I served it and his response of "not bad" (it's a pretty mild fish) had me giving myself mental high-fives.

Quick notes: I served this over medium grain rice, as I was completely out of jasmine and basmati. Also, for an extra large dose of DHA and omega-3, leave the tasty skin on the fillets.

Thai-style Fish Curry


4 wild-caught red snapper fillets, skin on, scales/bones removed (about 1 lb.), or equal amount of another type of mild fish
fresh ginger root, peeled and minced to equal a heaping tablespoon
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
5 medium-ish scallions/green onions, white/light green parts thinly sliced, green tops reserved for later
3 medium to large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
(optional) 1 bunch of asparagus, woody parts trimmed, cut into thirds or fourths**
1 14-oz. can of full-fat coconut milk
water, fill the above can after emptying
red Thai curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand), about 1 tsp, but to taste
dash of Thai fish sauce
dried lemongrass stick in cheesecloth, to remove when finished cooking
salt to taste
sugar to taste
butter and olive oil for frying

**I used asparagus because that's all I had in the way of a quick-cooking green veg. I thought I had some snow peas, but alas I was mistaken, and I needed to use up the 'gus. Feel free to throw in whatever you have in the way of crunchy green veg.


In a large flat-bottomed saute pan (I used my 3 qt. Le Creuset braiser), melt about 2 tblsp. butter with a quick dash of olive oil to prevent burning. Lay clean fillets skin side down, over medium-high heat and cook until a white "cooked" edge creeps up over the top of the flesh side. Gently turn over fillets and cook for another 1-2 minutes (it will not be cooked completely through if they are on the thick side). Remove from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and scrape up any fish and skin bits that have crisped in the pan (leave them in!), and add ginger, garlic, scallions, potatoes, and carrots to the pan, stirring to coat. Add the red curry paste and stir to distribute. On medium heat, add the can of coconut milk, can of water, and lemongrass sachet, stirring to make sure the potatoes are submerged. Chunk the fish (it doesn't have to look pretty, believe me), and add to the pan. Cover, vented, and cook for about 10 minutes or so until potatoes are fork-tender (you'll have to watch it, depends on how hot you got things going before). Add a good dash of the fish sauce, salt and sugar to taste, and your green veg, and simmer for a few more minutes.

I had let mine simmer a few extra minutes longer than I needed to, so I added a little bit more water and salt, and about 1/4 cup of sour cream to the curry, but you won't need to do that if you are more attentive than yours truly and don't let the liquid evaporate on too high heat!

Remove the lemongrass sachet and discard. Sprinkle reserved chopped green portions of the scallions on top of the curry. Serve the curry over cooked rice, preferably jasmine or basmati, but whatever you have on hand is fine. Enjoy!

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