Fish Curry

Fish Curry

“This curry was like a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that I’d once heard…..especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging ‘Joy.’ It stunned, it made one fear great art.”  Anthony Burgess

Thirty-eight years?! Okay, I’m really dating myself here, but as far as I can tell, that’s how long it’s been since I had fish curry. Waaaaay too long, especially considering that was the dish that made me fall in love with curry in the first place! It was love at first sight/smell/taste. Back when I was in school in Buffalo, my friend invited me over to dinner. Her family was from India, and she made me her mom’s fish curry. I’m sorry to say I didn’t ask for the recipe, and even sadder to say we lost touch. 

I don’t know why I waited so long to try my hand at fish curry. I’ve made curries with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, chickpeas, and lentils. Maybe it’s because I have more experience with those foods in general. Probably it’s because, until last year, I didn’t have a very well ventilated kitchen. Rather than having the whole house smell of cooking fish, I mostly limited myself to grilling it. Imagine my surprise in discovering that this cooks up with no “fishy” smell whatsoever! This isn’t S’s mother’s recipe (I don’t think there were tomatoes in that), but it’s delicious, quick, and easy, too. I’ve adapted it a bit from one I found at Caroline’s Cooking. I cut back the coconut milk a bit (because it’s so high in saturated fat), eliminated the chillies (one less thing to chop, and plenty of heat already from the cayenne), substituted a can of diced tomatoes for the fresh one (it’s what I had on hand), and sped up making the spice paste by using a mini food processor. The spices are the heart of the dish — perfect as is, no tweaking necessary. Yes, there’s some heat, although I wouldn’t describe it as fiery. Feel free to cut back on the cayenne if you have sensitive taste buds. And S, if you’re out there and happen to come across this post, I hope you’re happy and well. I’d love to catch up sometime!

Ingredients:

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2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds

2 to 3 cloves of garlic

knob of fresh ginger 

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cayenne

½ teaspoon ground paprika

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (411 g) 

2 teaspoons tamarind paste or concentrate

1 small can coconut milk 5.5 oz (160 ml)

1 pound (454 g) haddock

Preparation:

1.) Warm a dry sauté pan over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds. Cook just a few minutes, until fragrant. If the mustard seeds start popping, quickly remove the pan from heat before they all hop out. 

2.) Peel and chop the garlic and ginger. You’re looking for about a tablespoon of the ginger. I find it works best to slice it thinly before chopping. Sprinkle the salt over the pile, then use a knife to crush the mixture into a paste. Add the toasted seeds and grind again. Stir in the cayenne, paprika, and turmeric. Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor for all of this.

3.) Dice the onion. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the diced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and become a bit translucent. Stir in the spice paste you made in Step 2. 

4.) Heat for a minute or so, then stir in the can of tomatoes with their juice. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about another minute or two. 

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5.) Stir in the tamarind and coconut milk; mix well.

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6.) Meanwhile, skin the fish, remove any bones, and cut into chunks. Add to the pan, cooking until the fish is done (it will have become opaque and firm, with an internal temperature of 145º F/62.8º C) and sauce reaches desired consistency. Serve over rice. 

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Fish Curry

Ingredients

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds

2 to 3 cloves of garlic

knob of fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cayenne

½ teaspoon ground paprika

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (411 g)

2 teaspoons tamarind paste or concentrate

1 small can coconut milk 5.5 oz (160 ml)

1 pound (454 g) haddock

Directions

1.) Warm a dry sauté pan over medium heat. Add the coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds. Cook just a few minutes, until fragrant. If the mustard seeds start popping, quickly remove the pan from heat before they all hop out.

2.) Peel and chop the garlic and ginger. You’re looking for about a tablespoon of the ginger. I find it works best to slice it thinly before chopping. Sprinkle the salt over the pile, then use a knife to crush the mixture into a paste. Add the toasted seeds and grind again. Stir in the cayenne, paprika, and turmeric. Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor for all of this.

3.) Dice the onion. Heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the diced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and become a bit translucent. Stir in the spice paste you made in Step 2.

4.) Heat for a minute or so, then stir in the can of tomatoes with their juice. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about another minute or two.

5.) Stir in the tamarind and coconut milk; mix well.

6.) Meanwhile, skin the fish, remove any bones, and cut into chunks. Add to the pan, cooking until the fish is done (it will have become opaque and firm, with an internal temperature of 145º F/62.8º C) and sauce reaches desired consistency. Serve over rice.

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