Sunday, February 10, 2013

Matt's Favourite Fish Curry.

I made this quite a while ago and did not take photos of the various steps but am posting it because of requests for the recipe. Years ago I received Vikram Vij's Vij's Elegant and Inspired Cooking, the cookbook for his not-quite-authentic Vancouver Indian restaurant. We've made a smattering of the recipes from this book (and the follow-up, Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey) most of which have been good and a few of which have been really excellent.

I made this a few times in June 2010 and yes, it's excellent. So excellent in fact that in December 2012 Matt said to me, "Hey, why don't you make that fish curry?"

You have to understand the number of dishes I've made that could be described as "that fish curry" to understand the multitude of emotions this made me feel, but with a little investigation we were able to narrow it down to a few from the Vij's cookbook and I've now labeled the recipe as Matt's favourite when I made it again in January.

The recipe calls for halibut and that's how I made it the first time, but it's equally good (and much cheaper) when made with haddock, tilapia loins or even basa. Basically any firm white fish should do just fine.

I've modified this recipe quite a bit in order to reduce the oil. It's probably not quite as good, but the difference isn't that big.

White Fish in Coconut Curry
adapted from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Cooking

For the fish
4 tsp canola oil
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp dried green fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
3 fillets white fish, each around 6oz

1/2 cup ground bread crumbs
 Nonstick cooking spray

For the curry
2 Tbsp canola oil
10-15 curry leaves
3 large cloves chopped garlic
1 cup puréed onions (1/2 large onion)
8 fl. oz. canned diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
1/2 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 whole cloves
1.5 cups water
3/4 cup light coconut milk
10 oz fresh baby spinach
Combine oil, cayenne, salt, mustard seed, fenugreek and fish fillets in a nonreactive bowl or ziplock bag, mixing well to coat the fish with the spiced oil. Cover or seal and refrigerate for at least two hours, turning occasionally.

Heat oil for the curry in a medium pot on medium heat for 1 minute. Add the curry leaves and allow them to sizzle (if using fresh or frozen watch out because they'll splatter) for about 45 seconds, until they shrivel a bit if fresh. Add garlic and sauté until light brown (3-4 minutes), then add onions and sauté until brown (~10 minutes). Stir in tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cloves and continue cooking for 8 minutes or until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated. Add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

While the curry is simmering, spread bread crumbs on a flat plate. Dip each fillet in bread crumbs to coat (discard additional marinade) and place into a hot non-stick cooking pan sprayed with cooking spray and cook on first side for 2-3 minutes, until bread crumbs are darkish brown. Gently turn over and sear for another 2-3 minutes. Check that they are done (mine were) and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

I like to serve this curry spooned into a plate (1/2 cup per serving) with the fish placed on top and fresh (or at least warm) naan on the side. Matt likes the curry spooned over rice with the fish on top. Either way I disagree with Vij's serving suggestion, which is the curry spooned over the fish - it loses its crispiness.

Weight Wachersers: One fillet of fish (using haddock or tilapia and subtracting the oil and bread crumbs I had left over) is 5 Weight Watchers points+ and 1/2 cup of curry is 3 points+. My naan is 6 points+ per serving. So this meal clocks in as a little "pricey" at 14P+/serving but totally doable under the plan.