Vietnamese Fish Curry
Ok so maybe I should call it Alaskan fish curry since their were no Vietnamese people involved in the cooking of this curry. Well actually there were a couple when it came to the inspiration. Ray’s Place is a great little local Vietnamese place that I enjoy more every time I go there.
Last week I was there with my friend Duke and torn between ordering the lamb or the halibut curry. That day I went with the lamb and it was outstanding. But since then I have been craving some halibut curry.
As with most Asian cooking, the lion’s share of the work is done in prep. I put together the mis en place.
This is the base for the curry. It is 3 shallots, 2 green onions, 2 Fresno red chiles, 3 cloves garlic, grated ginger, 2 stalks of lemongrass, 3 Thai dried red chiles, cinnamon, coriander seed, and fennel seed. The dried spices were all ground up in a spice grinder. This was fried in a bit of peanut oil in my cast iron wok. I wanted this spicy so I also tossed in some chile garlic sauce. Oh and I have been hearing about the health benefits of tumeric so I tossed in some of that too.
After about 3 minutes this will start to smell amazing. Don’t be pulled in too far though. If you lean in for a smell it will be like taking a big whiff from a can of bear spray. After this takes on a little darker color, add in about a half cup of water and a can of coconut milk.
Now put in about 3 thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves that have had the stem removed. I also put in about 5 star anise and a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce. This mix is put on medium heat and allowed to reduce by about half. The water you add allows a longer simmering time so that more of the flavors can be extracted into your curry base. Now is also the time to taste and season. I wanted a balance of sweet and hot so I added in some palm sugar, salt, and pepper.
Once reduced, add in about 2 lbs of fish or shrimp and whatever veggies you want. I used halibut and sweet snap peas.
Stir this to incorporate and cover. I turned down the heat and let the fish gently poach in the curry sauce for about 6 minutes. Just stick a fork in a cube of fish to see that it is cooked through and pull off the heat. At this point toss in a bunch of chopped Thai basil, some cilantro, and maybe add a squeeze of lime juice.
I served with brown rice but white rice is also good. The final dish is dressed with a bit more of the fresh red chile, Thai basil, and cilantro.
This really hit the spot. I had a chill all day until I ate this. Spicy food makes winter seem shorter. J/S