Friday, September 4, 2009

Thai Red Curry with Fish

I love any and all good curries -- Thai, Indian, Caribbean, you name it! I even remember having a fantastic North African goat curry at a hole-in-the-wall take-out place in Queens years ago. Curry is good, honest peasant food, which is to say that it has no airs and it requires no sophistication to enjoy it. It is not an acquired taste. It just tastes good!

I admit it ... I cheat when I make curry, which makes them supremely easy to make and foolproof. When making Indian curries I generally use jarred curry powder or garam masala, and when I make Thai curries I use jarred curry paste. These things can be made yourself, and in general I encourage that sort of thing. But some things ought to be left to the experts, unless you really know what you're doing. In the case of curry powders and curry pastes, there are plenty of perfectly healthy options out there that contain no MSG, HFCS, or other bizarre almost-food products, so this is a short cut I can live with.

A word of caution: curry can be hot, and especially if you are working with jarred Thai curry paste, it most likely will be. If you're particularly heat-sensitive, you might want to try making your own curry paste, and leaving the chilies out, or to a minimum.

Thai Red Curry with Fish
2 Tbsps safflower oil
1 - 1.5 lbs. fish fillets (almost any will work ... Mahi Mahi is what we used, but you needn't use such a firm fish. Stay away from very strong-flavored fish like salmon, tuna, or bluefish), skin removed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), cored and cut into strips
1 bunch leafy greens (kale, beet greens, spinach, chard), washed, ribs removed, and leaves torn into large pieces
14 oz. can light coconut milk
1/2 - 1 1/2 tsps. Thai red curry paste, depending on your heat tolerance
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple, or 1 can pineapple chunks
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil (or other basil), torn
cooked brown rice

In a large stainless steel skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, and place in the hot pan. Cook 2-4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

In the same pan, add the onions and garlic. Saute until slightly browned, 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and peppers, seasoning with salt and pepper, and saute until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the leafy green and saute until wilted. Add the coconut milk and curry paste, and adjust other seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Flake the fish or cut into large chunks, and return to the pan. Add the pineapple and basil. Serve over brown rice.

Serves 4-5.

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