Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fish Curry!

I've never met a fish curry I didn't like. This one is both delicious and easy to make. It takes about half an hour. I used cod and squid last night, but you could use either. It would work well with shrimp, too. While fiercely tasty, I'll admit this curry is a bit on the mild side. You can adjust how tangy and hot it is by how heavy you go with the vinegar and hot pepper. When you open your can of coconut milk you'll be able to judge how thick it is; if it's half solid the curry will be very rich, whereas thinner will make a less rich curry. Both are good. If you have thick coconut milk you can always thin it down with a little water, but with thin you're best to use the whole can. One last point: most of my recipes are on the less salty side, because one can always adjust salt to taste at the table. You may want to taste and reason before serving. Beyond that there isn't much to this practically foolproof fish curry beyond making up some rice, dal and greens to go with it. If you really want to get crazy you could add a peeled boiled egg or two like the Malaysians do, but I think that would be gilding the lily in this case.

This recipe will serve four with rice, dal and greens.

1 1/2lb fish (I use 1 lb cod, 1/2lb squid), cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbs white vinegar
3-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1tsp black mustard seeds
2Tbs oil
1Tbs each: coriander, fennel and cumin seeds
generous 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Indian hot pepper powder (or cayenne)
jalapeno pepper, sliced in rounds (seeds and all; don't be a wuss)
2-4 tomatoes, cut into generous chunks
14 oz can coconut milk (if thick use 2/3 of can)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, to garnish (or more, to taste)

In a bowl marinate seafood in vinegar. In a dry frying pan toast coriander, cumin and fennel seeds until fragrant. Let cool and grind together in a spice grinder (I like a cheap whirling blade coffee grinder). Toasting the spices is the secret to the curry - it's easy, so don't blow it off! In a large pan heat oil and black mustard seeds. When you hear the first seed pop add jalapeno pepper, ginger and garlic. Let fry for about a minute, then add tomatoes and salt. When tomatoes have softened a bit add coconut milk, turmeric, hot pepper powder and the toasted spice blend. Take a whiff of what's happening - it should be glorious! When tomatoes are cooked add seafood with the juice at the bottom of the bowl. The seafood will cook in 2-3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

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