One of the habits that tend to grow as a chef gets more experience is the ability to cook dishes with the lack of recipes. Its good when you’re in a rush and pressed for time as you produce food quicker for your guests but conversely when someone asks you for the recipe to a dish you once made you’re left blank-faced and trying to work out how much of each ingredient you put in the dish.
Whilst working as a chef at a lodge in the Kruger Park a guest from India had a surprise request for the kitchen. They asked for an authentic fish curry. After much running around I sent out the curry and the waiter returned a few minutes later with a comment from the guest. The guest said it was the best curry he had ever tasted. Sadly, I don’t quite remember what I put in the curry!
A curry is basically a blend of spices. It can be wet or dry. In Thailand curries are made using pastes that contain shellfish, amongst other ingredients, Indian curries tend to use powdered spice blends. There isn’t a specific way of making a curry, similar to a stew everyone thinks their way is the correct way. As long as the fundamental flavours are present you can make it the way you think works. This recipe uses a paste and spices too. I normally use hake but I’d recommend you used a more firmly fleshed fish such as Yellowtail. You can also add shell fish and other seafood if you like. Remember the longer you cook shellfish though the tougher they’ll turn out so cook the shell fish in a separate pan first and add it at the very end just before serving the curry. For added texture you can also add a few cashew nuts.
For the curry paste (blend in a blender or in a pestle and mortar):
- – 1 teaspoon turmeric
- – 1 teaspoon masala
- – ½ teaspoon ground coriander powder
- – 2 finely chopped hot red chillies
- – 2 spoons lemon juice
- – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- – 3 tablespoons melted butter
- – handful of freshly chopped coriander leaves
For the curry
- – ½ an onion, finely chopped
- – 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- – 1 teaspoon curry powder
- – 1 star anise
- – 120g hake or Yellowtail (with skin still on) cut into cubes
- – 1 tin coconut cream
- – Juice of ½ a lime
- – Salt
- – 3 tablespoons fresh coriander
- – Make the curry paste beforehand.
- – In a hot pan (preferably a wok as it heats up quicker) heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic until soft and translucent.
- – Dry the fish as thoroughly as possible on paper towel. Turn the heat up and add the fish skin down into the oil.
- – Cook the fish until the skin is brown and crispy. Add the spice blend and stir to coat every part of the fish.
- – Add the curry spice and lime juice and stir gently. Add the coconut cream (you don’t have to add the whole can, this is up to you depending on how wet you want the curry). Season with the salt
- – Simmer the curry. The longer you simmer the thicker it will get however remember the longer you cook the fish, the bigger the chance of it breaking apart.
- – Add the coriander just before serving.