Pantry Update #9: Fish curry

I decided to do a pantry update with just one dish, so I could write down all the details of a highly successful experiment. Although I was working without a recipe, I was following tips from the colleague who recommend the brand of fish curry masala, and cross-pollinated those tips with the instructions from the side of the box of masala. I was very happy with the result: a flavourful sauce and perfectly cooked fish.

Dish #38: Fish curry

I bought a whole 500g European seabass (called Wolfbarsch in German, which is a way cooler name). The person at the fish counter wasn’t able to clean it for me (he did warn me before selling it to me, but gave no justification) so I got to practise my fish gutting and fileting skillz. Shout out to my parents and big brother for taking me fishing as a kid, otherwise dinner may have been a catastrophe.

whole-wolfbarsch
Whole Wolfbarsch
off-with-its-head
Headless, gutless but otherwise whole Wolfbarsch

At the end of a messy and delicate process, I had two filet of fresh fish. I patted them dry with paper towels, and salted them on both sides.

At this point, I put on a pot of basmati rice, into which I put half of a smashed dried lime. I thought the sourness of the dried lime could go nicer with fish than the cardamon I usually add when making basmati rice.

I prepped into separate bowls:

  • one medium yellow onion, sliced into half rings
  • two medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • a half cup of water + half a teaspoon of turmeric + 80ml of coconut milk
  • chopped cilantro (use parsley, if you are one of those anti-cilantro mutants)

After heating up a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat a non-stick pan, I cooked the fish very briefly on each side – perhaps a minute or so – just until I could see that it was opaque beyond the surface, and then I lifted the pieces out onto a plate and set them aside.

wolfbarsch-filet
I cooked these for such a short amount of time there was barely time to take three different photos trying to get the right framing

To the same pan, I added the onion slices and let them get a bit soft, then sprinkled on a very heaping tablespoon of the fish curry masala. I let the spices get a bit toasted and let the onions soften more while stirring occasionally, for a couple minutes. Then I added the chopped tomato and let them start to sizzle. I then added the water + turmeric + coconut milk mixture, and stirred it all around to get the spices into the sauce.

I let this all simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the onions and tomatoes were good and soft, and the sauce was looking thicker. At this point, I added salt and after a little taste, also a few pinches of sugar to take the edge off the sour tomatoes.

By this time, the rice was done. After fluffing it up with fork, I divided it into two dishes for serving.

One at a time, I placed a cooked filet into the pan of sauce, and lifted sauce onto it to cover, then scooped it back up and placed into a dish. I served the remaining sauce over the fish, and sprinkled liberally with chopped cilantro.

This method meant the fish was intact, warmed back up from the hot sauce, and not the slightest bit over done. Perfect.

Notes for next time:

  • I will put a whole dried lime into the rice, so its flavour can get through the flavour of the sauce.
  • Thinly sliced green bell pepper would go nice. I would add it very close to the end to keep it crunchy.
  • If I wanted a stronger fish flavour, I would consider fish stock instead of water. As it was, I thought the balance was good.

Tally

Items used up: none
Items partly used: three (four, if you count coconut milk I bought for this purpose)
Items used from the “Just use already” category: none

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