Monday, 9 September 2013

Keralan Coconut Fish Curry

The British chef Gizzi Erskine is some one I'd heard of, but had never paid any attention to - frankly, I wanted to be annoyed by her, one of these new young breed, with her funky / odd name... I've enough to keep up with already, with your Jamie's and Nigella's and the like! She's taken over as the food writer in the Sunday Times magazine, so I've taken to at least reading her stuff. The first couple of weeks cheered me up no end, I was able to completely pooh-pooh her recipes, they seemed complicated and full of exotic ingredients that might be available in the posh supermarkets in the trendy hip areas of London she undoubtedly hangs out in, but have yet to make it to the shelves of Tesco on the Crumlin Road, much less Lidl or Aldi, where I do all my shopping these days.

But then, dammit, her recipes started to draw me in a little, much to my disgust. Last week, she had some recipes for "Midweek Suppers" that seemed so exactly to fit the ethos of this blog - quick and easy tasty meals - that I read with some interest. There was a not very appetizing looking picture of some meatballs, that seemed a bit of a faff, but on the next page were two much more interesting sounding affairs; a coconut fish curry and a Thai chicken stir fry that both seemed at the very least to be quick and easy.

It's a bargain - HONEST!
I did need to make a visit to the Asian shop anyhow, every now and again I need to replenish. And I do love having a nosy around all the unfamiliar ingredients and smells. And it's SO cheap. Case in point - I needed garam masala for the recipe. Now, I know my local Tesco would actually be able to provide that, but I was nowhere near Tesco so I thought I'd just grab it there. So I did. It was €2.95. Not madly cheap, you think... I've just checked online at Tesco and they have a couple of offerings; a Scharwtz one for €2.29 and a Tesco brand one for a mere 99 cent. But the quantity is the difference - 38g Tesco jar, 30g Schwartz jar... Or a 400g bag from the Asian Market. Yes, well over TEN TIMES more. That works out at 7 cent per 10g, whereas even the cheapest next option from Tesco is 26 cent for 10g. Aren't you glad I worked all that out for you?! I wouldn't normally work out to such a degree the levels of saving, but this was so obviously a massive difference that I decided to see the detail. Now, in fairness, I'm not sure I really need 400g of garam masala, so if anyone needs a bit, just give me a call! I would usually buy in smaller quantities but it would've certainly cost more in diesel to hightail it back to Tesco for the sake of a smaller pot. Although as the recipe only needs a quarter teaspoon, it's gonna be a while before I need more (on that note, you should actually replace spices reasonably frequently - let's say annually, as they do loose their flavour).
Anyhow, I had a great nosy round the Asian Market - you get all sorts of things there (Worcestershire sauce for €3 - a big bottle! Another saving over Mr Tesco - and, as they say themselves, "every little helps"). Coconut milk on offer - two for €2, again cheaper than.... So delighted was I with all my bargains that I bought all sorts of things I don't really need.

So, for the recipe - I'm including here also the introductory paragraph from the author, as it gives a good outline of the dish.

Coconut Fish CurrySunday Times Magazine, Sept 1st 2013, recipe by Gizzi Erskine

"Keralan food is 'My Thing': lightly spiced fish curries with a rich and soupy coconut base. If you want healthy fast food, this is just the ticket. Unlike most curries, this doesn't start with garlic and ginger, but that's normal in southern India. This most basic of curries packs a huge and unexpected flavour punch."

  • 1 tbsp vevgetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 200g fresh tomatoes, blitzed (I used a can of chopped tomatoes)
  • 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 3 green chillies
  • 4 kafir lime leaves (I got a large bag of dried from the Asian Market)
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 600g white fish, such as cod or pollock (I used hake, often on offer at your local fishmonger or fish counter - I usually go to Fitzsimmons in Kimmage), cut into chunks
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Basmati rice, to serve
    Serves 4
    Prep time: 10 mins
    Cooking time: 20 mins
    1. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the onion over a lowish heat for about 10 minutes until fully softened
    2. Add the cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and fry for about another 1 minute
    3. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the coconut milk, fresh chillies, lime leaves and seasoning
    4. Stir well and bring to the boil, then poach the fish in the sauce for about 3 to 5 minutes, until it's just cooked through - do not stir as this will break the fish up. You can gently turn the fish half way through using two spoons to ensure it is cooked evenly
    5. Serve the curry with basmati rice topped with fresh coriander and a wedge or two of lime

    This is fast food at it's absolute best - to say the flavour packs a punch is to underestimate things greatly. It was a fantastic dinner. 

    I've yet to try out the chicken stir-fry, but all I can say is; after the fish curry; I have HIGH hopes.

    Go on  try something new. It's fabulous.

    Sarah xx


    1. Oooohhh this is going on my meal plan for this week...will report back....very excited about this...even though its only 9.17am!

    2. Now don't be stuck for either garam masala or lime leaves, as I have LARGE quantities of both!