Whitefish in Yellow Curry
Whitefish in Yellow Curry, Thai inspired, Indian influenced, this is a curry that blends the best of two worlds. Deep turmeric tones and the light acidic touch of lemongrass and a hint of heat, paired with a smooth, buttery fish.
A mellow yellow curry, you want a fish that doesn’t overpower, but instead is a neutral foil. For this recipe I used a freshwater Whitefish. Ocean Wise, local and wild, whitefish has a light flaky flesh and full, easy flavour to make it the perfect companion to a rich, coconut curry.
Richly spiced thanks to a peppy sauce made with onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, fennel seeds, cloves and cardamom and finished with cool earthy coriander, it’s a great way to stay warm – from the inside out. If you have a spice grinder, break it out because there’s a whole lot of big curry punch to blend!
The curry recipe is wicked good but the fish is probably more important so let’s take a moment to touch on a resource I highly recommend: the Ocean Wise App (for IPhone). I’ll be honest, the Ocean Wise app and Kitchen Dial (which converts cooking units, and saves me tons of math) are two key reasons I refuse to switch to android. Combined, they’re too useful to give up.
—Ocean Wise PSA, start—
With the Ocean Wise app I have been known to stand on the other side of the glass at my local fish counter/shop and do my own research. Is this fish farmed? Is it wild? Is it sustainable? How is it harvested? Is it safe? And most importantly, is it endangered?
Not all fishmongers and seafood counter managers are created equal. All too often the pressure to maximize profit with outweighs the impact on our oceans and consumer health. You might be thinking to yourself: who in their right mind would carry an endangered fish at their counter?! Well, the sad truth of the matter is the reason your favourite black grouper is $25/pound is because it’s endangered. Simply put, our oceans are being over-fished and horribly mismanaged, but there are lots of people working to change that, like the folks at the Vancouver Aquarium who put together Ocean Wise Canada. (More links to similar organizations below for our international readership, below.)
“The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, foodservices and suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.” – Ocean Wise Canada
Watch for Ocean Wise labels at your local supermarket and on menus at restaurants. More and more businesses in the foodservice industry are shifting their focus to make ocean-friendly choices.
As a foodservice professional I make it my business to ask questions and hold suppliers accountable for traceable, sustainable product, both at work and at home. If we all do that we make a big impact, because most educated consumers won’t buy product that they know is impacting our environment in a negative way. Soon, the market for that product will die; they won’t buy it because they know they can’t sell it. Simple right?! Make wise seafood choices and voice your opinion. Oh sure, you might find yourself escorted out of a store or two for pointing out the red listed (endangered) fish on ice. (Just ask the fiery French Chef in my life.) But it feels pretty good… when all the other shoppers follow and ask you for more information. (There’s an app for that my friend!!)
November is Ocean Wise month – So get the app, check the website; find alternatives if necessary and EAT WELL! Here’s a little ocean link love for readers near and far: Seafood Watch USA, a list of Seafood Guides, worldwide, via the World Wildlife Foundation.
—Ocean Wise PSA, end—
The more you know the better you shop! Go forth better armed to defend our oceans and support those making a difference. You are a drop in the ocean…
Whitefish in Yellow Curry
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (8 peppercorns)
1/4 teaspoon cloves ground (3 cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (4 pods)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon kashmiri pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes)*optional*
2 – 3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (white part of the stalk only)
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup fish or chicken stock
2 curry leaves (dried or fresh)
dash of fish sauce
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/2 red pepper, cut in a fine julienne
1 cup snap or sugar peas, cut diagonally in 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds (2 – 3 good sized fillets) Whitefish
chopped fresh coriander (or fresh Thai basil ) & fresh lime to finish
salt to taste
serve with sticky jasmine rice
- Toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds black pepper ( if using peppercorns) cloves (if using whole cloves) and cardamom (if using pods) over high heat in a small, dry pan for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from heat to cool. Once cool combine toasted seeds with ground/dried spices and grind together into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or (clean) coffee/spice grinder. Remove and reserve.
- Make your curry paste: In a large sauce pan over medium heat, start with your cooking oil, then add onions and sweat them lightly. Add garlic and ginger and stir to prevent burning (reduce heat and or add more oil if needed) then add half your spice mixture and all the lemongrass, stirring constantly until a thick, heavily fragrant paste forms.
- Add coconut milk and stock to spice paste and bring to a simmer, then add curry leaves and cinnamon stick and reduce heat to medium low. Pat fish fillets well with paper towel and rub with remaining curry spices, adding salt to taste. Gently place fish to curry sauce, and top with vegetables, cover with tight fitting lid and steam for about 3 minutes. Flip fillets, stir in vegetables and cook for another 3 minutes (depending on the size of your fish). Remove curry leaves and cinnamon stick before serving.
Serve with sticky jasmine rice. Top with fresh chopped coriander (and/or Thai basil) and a wedge of fresh lime and — voila, a meal to wow the wise.