Home > Ethical Consumption, Food, Provenance > Green Thai Curry Fish

Green Thai Curry Fish

Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Yield: 4

Spicy green Thai curry fish with Basmati rice

This is one of my earliest forays into stir-frying. I’d recently purchased a mild steel wok, from a Chinese food store at N1 City. After seasoning it well, I decided to test drive it. This is the result.

With the onset of winter, and the imminence of cooler weather (and a not inconsiderable prod from the Editor!), I felt that my Green Thai Curry Fish recipe would be appropriate for this week.

It introduces the concept of stir frying, which is ubiquitous with Asian style cooking, and if that scares you, don’t let it. It’s a lot easier than you might think.

With fish increasingly under threat – the WWF’s SASSI List System wouldn’t be around if there was no problem – finding decent fish is becoming difficult. Other than those listed below in the recipe, you may also want to try Gurnard or if you can get it, Mackerel, since Yellowtail is not that easy to get.

There was a time when Gurnard was considered a “trash fish” not worth eating, but with the popular species like kabeljou and geelbek now both on the SASSI Red List, one must start to cast around for a suitable alternative. Off-shore trawled Gurnard is on the SASSI Green List, whereas inshore trawled Gurnard is on the SASSI Orange List. Personally, I believe there should be a Green List and Red List only, so eating something that may be on the Orange List is a matter of conscience.

Ingredients, Selection & Preparation (to serve 4)

450gm of skinned, de-boned fish (Yellow tail, Geelbek, Kabeljou, Hake). The fish options I have given above indicate my preference in descending order of “suitability”. Since we’re using green Thai curry paste, we need a fish that will either maintain its flavour in the face of the curry, or carry the essence of the curry well. At the top end is Yellow tail, a firm, robust, dark and flavourful fish, and at the other end of the spectrum we have Hake, a snowy white, delicate almost flavourless fish. Which ever you choose, it must be skinned and de-boned. Get your fish supplier to do it if you use one of the first three, or if you buy frozen hake, then buy appropriately.

2 heaped tbsp flour

½tsp freshly ground black pepper

½tsp freshly ground coarse salt

1 heaped tsp mixed herbs

1 cup (200 ml) oil (Grape seed, Canola or Sunflower oil) Again, it is a trade off of flavour preference and practicality. Grape seed oil has a very high smoke point (i.e. you can get it really hot before it starts to smoke and break down) and Sunflower has the lowest. I prefer Grape seed oil for this reason, as well as the fact that it is high in Omega-6 or Linoleic acid, which is good for lowering cholesterol.

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1 level tbsp green Thai curry paste (any more and it may well be too hot!)

1tbsp fish sauce

1 can (400 ml) coconut milk

175g cherry tomatoes

1 handful fresh Basil leaves: well washed and chiffonaded (that means rolled up tightly and sliced very thin!).

2 cups Basmati rice: (or any other fragrant rice, such as Jasmine) Basmati is best (in my humble opinion) followed by Jasmine, and then the rest. I have recently started using brown Basmati, and this gives one the best of both worlds: flavour and texture combined with the health effects of the brown husk.

Method

A well-seasoned wok and wooden stir fry tools

Combine the crushed garlic, green Thai curry paste, fish sauce and the can of coconut milk in a small mixing bowl, and stir well. Set aside for the moment.

Cut the fish into bit sized or thumb sized pieces (maybe that’s where rule of thumb comes from!). If the fish was frozen, you may want to place it between two sheets of kitchen paper towel and press gently to get rid of some of the moisture in the fish. The less moisture the fish contains, the better it fries.

Combine the flour, ground coarse salt, ground black pepper and mixed herbs in a medium sized mixing bowl. Toss the fish in the seasoned flour, coating it lightly.

Meantime, put your rice on. I use a rice cooker, so that makes it easy. If you do not have one, follow the cooking instructions on the rice packet. You want the rice ready as soon as the fish is done.

Pour the cup of oil into a wok, and heat it until the oil just starts to smoke. Using a set of tongs, either wooden or metal, place the pieces of fish in the oil, and allow it to fry for about a minute, then turn each piece and allow it to fry for a further minute, then take it out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place it on kitchen paper towel to drain. Fry the fish in relays, so that you do not overcrowd the wok, which causes the oil temperature to drop. The fish then literally sucks in the oil, making it most unpleasant and also most unhealthy.

Once the fish is fried, dispose of the remaining oil in the wok, and give it a wipe with a wad of kitchen paper towel.

Return the wok to the heat, and add the drained fried fish. Give the coconut milk mixture a good stir, and add it to the wok. Add the cherry tomatoes as well then stir them in gently. Turn the heat up high until the mixture boils, then turn it down low, place a lid on the wok, and simmer it for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, wash the Basil leaves carefully, and slice them into long thin strips.

Once the simmering is complete (the tomatoes will be soft to the touch, but will not have broken open), add the Basil, and stir it gently into the mixture, then remove the wok from the heat.

By now your rice should be perfectly cooked. Serve in a bowl, with a generous portion of rice.

Enjoy!

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