A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Indian Fish Curry with Tamarind and Cucumbers

I couldn't get a pretty picture of this dish, so here instead is a cucumber plant from Lawson's 2006 garden. No good pictures from 2007 -- it was a bad garden year for the ol' cucurbits.

This curry was a wonderful surprise. I'd bought a fresh coconut on sale at the grocery store the week before, and we needed to use it quickly. I'd also bought some flounder, plus the usual assortment of buy-first-figure-meals-out-later vegetables. So Lawson found this recipe for which we happened to have all the ingredients, plus a few more. It's from Jennifer Brennan's One Dish Meals of Asia, which is one of Lawson's cookbooks I've never really looked at.

It's easier than many other curries because you can use the food processor. And it's refreshing -- not so aggressively rich and creamy as a green curry made with coconut milk.

First, mix together and set aside:
- 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate or 2 tablespoons wet tamarind (the recipe says you can use 1 tablespoon molasses and 1/2 cup lemon juice if you have no tamarind)
- 1 1/2 cups hot water

Run through the food processor to make a paste:
- 1 onion
- 4 or fewer small fresh hot green chiles, seeds and ribs removed
- 1/2 cup fresh coconut, broken or cut into chunks, or 1/3 dried unsweetened shredded coconut moistened with some water
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- a 1" chunk of ginger

Heat in a wok or big saucepan over medium-high heat:
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil

When just smoking, add and fry until they pop open:
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Add and cook:
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced

Then add the curry paste and a bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Add and blend:
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of firm white fish, cut into 2" strips (the flounder broke down quite a bit, which was fine, but cod or something would stay together better)
- the tamarind water
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into 1" chunks

Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until fish and cucumber are just cooked. Serve over rice.


karin said...

Do you think tofu would taste good as a substitute for the fish?

Eva said...

I do think tofu would be good. I would probably bake or saute it separately first to give it some extra flavor, then maybe sprinkle it with a little soy sauce and let it sit while you prepare everything else.

Thanks for your interest!

Kris said...

I have never done anything with fresh coconut. This inspires me.