F I S H C U R R Y
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Season: Depends on what fish you use. Hake is in
season from late October to March; Sea Bass from May until December; Sea Trout from late March to early July
4 round shallots
2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger
1 red chilli
2 garlic cloves
1 tblsp paprika
1 rounded tblsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground tumeric
50 g unsweetened desiccated coconut
100 ml coconut cream
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp tamarind paste (mixed with 100 ml water)
600 g fish steaks (about 2.5 cm thick)
Fresh coriander for garnish
Peel the shallots and ginger and slice thinly. Wash and halve the chilli and deseed. Peel the garlic and crush with the side of your knife to release the natural oil. Put the prepared ingredients, along with the paprika, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, tumeric and the desiccated coconut into a food processor. If you don't have a food processor or blender a pestle and mortar will do, just make sure that you roughly chop the ginger and chilli first. Purée the ingredients into a thickened paste, slowly add the coconut cream and blend thoroughly to combine.
Heat a medium-sized saucepan with a tight fitting lid or a casserole (one large enough to hold the fish in one layer) over a low flame with the olive oil. Add the spice paste and fry gently for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Once the spices have filled your kitchen with their aroma, add the tamarind water and stir to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
If you can't find tamarind paste, do not worry as the dish is good without it but remember to add the water as it is a necessary ingredient to thin the spice paste.
Using a spatula to help you, slip the fish into the casserole. Bring the spice mixture up to a simmer. Cover and cook, very gently for 15 minutes, turning the fish half way through. If you have a particularly deep casserole it might be a good idea to cut out a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the circumference of your casserole. Press the parchment down into the casserole nearly touching the fish. This will help to circulate the steam and cook the fish evenly. While the fish cooks, wash the coriander leaves and blot dry with kitchen paper. Roughly chop the leaves and thin stems only. Serve the fish and sauce on a bed of rice. Garnish with fresh coriander.
Cook's note: You could substitute the juice of 1 lime and 100 ml double cream for the diluted tamarind paste and coconut cream. To do so, still add the 100 ml water to the spice mixture along with the double cream but add the lime juice at the end of the cooking.