Hard to beat a nice fish curry on a cool and rainy day. I was delighted to find some cheap cod at the local store and some leeks still growing in the garden. In the Northwest, it is common for some vegetables to survive the winters, but these guys were doing great. Thai-style curries, such as this one, are much easier to make than many people think, and fish curries, since they have short cooking times and simple ingredients, are a great place to start if you have not cooked Thai food before.
I tend to like my fish curries with green curry paste and an abundance of fish. The cod in this version develops an amazing buttery flavor despite being only briefly simmered in the coconut milk. The green curry is aromatic and spicy, without being overwhelmingly hot. Fresh basil and chilis punch up the first impression of the dish and leeks give a rich background for the remaining flavors. Rich and comforting…and surprisingly easy to make.
I made this batch in a donabe (Japanese clay pot), which provides a little more separation to the individual flavors, but using a medium sauce pan is the typical way to go. If you are going to add either a lot of fish or a lot of vegetables, make sure that you boil the coconut milk long enough to thicken it slightly. If you don’t, your curry will be a bit runny. It will likely take a couple of tries to get both the flavor profile and the consistency just right. Let your own preferences guide you…it’s your curry, after all!
It is important to not overcook either the prawns or the cod. Overcooked cod falls apart and that is very, very sad. Overcooked prawns are tough and unflavorful; nothing short of abomination. Don’t be the sort of person that cruelly mistreats your seafood…it is not right and you are, simply, better than that. You may find that it helps to cook the cod for a bit before adding the prawns, but err on the side of under-cooking. If you are serving the pot of curry on the table, the ingredients will continue to cook a bit prior to being served. The only thing you need to worry about is serving something so raw that it grosses someone out. Note that most of the heat in this dish comes from the fresh chilis, not the curry paste. If you need to adjust the heat, keep that in mind and change the chili first.
We ended up serving the curry over egg noodles, but steamed rice is more typical. We paired this with some simple side dishes. Brinn had some left-over pears that she treated with salt and ground pink peppercorns, a really nice combination. A small dish of peanuts and some steamed spinach rounded things out. Let us know about any variations on this theme that you have come up with.
- ¾ lb. white, firm fish, such as cod, cut into generous chunks
- ½ lb. prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
- 2 Tbs. green curry paste
- 2 fresh green chilis, such as Serrano
- 2 oz. carrots, sliced
- 2 to 3 oz. red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 large or 2 small leeks, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce
- 1½ tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 handful fresh basil
- Place coconut milk into medium sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, and continue to boil for 5 minutes.
- Add curry paste, stir well, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
- Add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
- Put in chilis, fish, prawns, bring to a boil and cook until fish is just cooked. Add basil and stir.
- Serve over steamed rice or noodles.