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Thai Fish Curry

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This looks like a complicated recipe, but it isn’t really. I like to make the paste in double or triple quantities and freeze some, so I can whip up a curry quickly. You can vary the fish and shellfish, adding strips of squid or thickly sliced scallops if you like, or increasing the proportion of white fish in relation to shellfish for a more economical dish.

Serves4

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, spiced, tangy, umami

Ingredients

  • 2 to 6 small green chiles, according to heat, seeded if you like
  • 3 to 4 small shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons galangal paste (optional)
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white part only, tough outer layers removed, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • Juice and grated zest of 1 lime
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or peanut oil
  • 1¾ cups coconut milk
  • ¾ cup fish stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces green beans
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 pound firm fish fillets, such as Pacific halibut or tilapia, skinned
  • 10 ounces fresh crabmeat
  • A handful of cilantro and Thai basil or ordinary basil leaves, coarsely torn

Instructions

  1. Put all the curry paste ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend to a fairly smooth paste, adding a tablespoon of water to help it along if necessary.

  2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan, then scrape in the curry paste. Fry over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, without letting it color. Add the coconut milk, stock or water, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cut the green beans into ¾- to 1¼-inch lengths and slice the green onions on the diagonal. Add these to the curry sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Cut the fish fillets into large bite-sized pieces. Add these to the pan, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Stir in the crabmeat and heat through gently for another minute.

  5. Serve in deep bowls, scattered with the cilantro and basil and accompanied by steamed rice.

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