Coconut Fish Curry

Coconut Fish Curry RecipeThis is a very popular South-East Asian fish curry in a coconut sauce. Choose a firm-textured fish so that the pieces stay intact during the brief cooking process which uses the dry-frying method. This dry-frying is a feature of Malay cooking that demands the cook's close attention. The coconut must be constantly on the move so that it becomes crisp and uniformly golden in color.




Ingredients: (Serves 4)

500 g/1.25 lb firm-textured fish fillets, skinned and cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes

2.5 ml/0.5 teaspoon salt

50 g/2 oz desiccated (dry unsweetened shredded) coconut

6 shallots or small onions, roughly chopped

6 blanched almonds

2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2.5 cm/1 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced

2 lemon grass stalks, trimmed

10 ml/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

45 ml/3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 x 400 ml/14 fl oz cans coconut milk

1-3 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and sliced

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Fresh chives, to garnish

Boiled long grain rice, to serve



Spread out the pieces of fish in a shallow dish and sprinkle them with the salt. Dry-fry the coconut in a wok over medium to low heat, turning all the time until it is crisp and golden. Tip the dry-fried coconut into a food processor and process until you have an oily paste. Scrape into a bowl and reserve.


Add the shallots or onions, almonds, garlic and ginger to the food processor. Cut off the lower 5 cm/2 in of the lemon grass stalks, chop them roughly and add to the other ingredients in the processor. Process the mixture to a paste. Bruise the remaining lemon grass and set the stalks aside.


Add the ground turmeric to the mixture in the processor and process briefly to mix. Heat the oil in the clean wok. Add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes without browning. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to the boil, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.


Add the cubes of fish, most of the sliced chilies and the bruised lemon grass stalks. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the coconut paste (moistened with some of the sauce if necessary) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes only. Do not overcook the fish. Taste and adjust the seasoning.


Remove the lemon grass stalks. Spoon the fish on to a hot serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining slices of chili. Garnish with chopped and whole chives and serve with boiled long grain rice.


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Happy Cooking,



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