Thursday, 21 July 2016

Easy Thai Coconut Fish (or Chicken or Shrimp!)

Easy Thai Coconut Fish or Chicken or Shrimp

This one’s easy.  It takes less than forty minutes from start to eating, it’s insanely delicious and highly adaptable.  Fragrant spices are enriched with luscious coconut and lime, and a firm white fish or chicken pieces can be used.  You could even use shrimp instead.  It’s all in the magical sauce.

It’s so good, I made it twice in one day.  Once for lunch when the girl friends were coming over, and again in the evening, when husband person said he could stand a good meal.  It was ready in about half an hour, as I didn’t dawdle, and it serves about four people, depending on how greedy they are.
Instant deliciousness.

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf (optional)
zest of 1 lime (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ medium sized red onion, diced
1 inch ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks
4 to 5 medium sized mushrooms, sliced about an eighth inch thick
1/3 cup of coconut milk powder
1 teaspoon green Thai curry paste (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
1 cup water
1 long sweet pepper, sliced into strips
2 large tilapia fillets or 4 smaller fillets of another firm white fish
2 Sliced chicken breasts
About 24 shrimp
10 sprigs of cilantro (approximately), chopped if stems are tender, or stems discarded if tough
1 lime

I like lime zest as a flavouring, so I zested the lime and added the green magic to the olive oil, along with the cinnamon.  You can skip this step if zesting isn’t your thing.  Once the heat reaches medium high, add the mustard seed. In a few moments it will splutter and shift colour.  Add the onion and ginger and turn heat down to medium and stir to ensure the onion is spread out in the pan.  

While it’s cooking, slice the mushrooms.  Once the onions are getting translucent, and some are golden, add the mushrooms.  Flavour comes from browning the mushroom to succulent gold, so take your time.  Stir often to ensure each slice is in contact with the heat.  While you’re waiting, slice the sweet pepper into attractive strips. 
The secret is in caramelizing!

Once the mushrooms are gorgeous, add the coconut powder.  You can use canned coconut milk if you prefer, but you won’t have control over the richness and thickness of your sauce.   If using canned, add most of the can, but reserve the rest of the can for the rice.  Let the coconut powder cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, just to bring out the flavour. 

How much curry paste you add depends on you.  For the friends at noon I added a scant teaspoon, but for husband person, a generous teaspoon full, maybe more like a tablespoon.  Stir it around a bit but don’t worry about blending it in just yet.

Add the water and gently stir.  Remain calm.  At this point, you’ll see globs and splotches, but trust that they will smooth out quickly, especially if you help them along with a spatula.

Yes, it's lumpy. Stay calm!

Once your sauce is mostly smooth, which takes about five minutes, add your fish, chicken or shrimp.  I used frozen fillets, so I added them and put the lid on for about fifteen minutes, then I added the sweet pepper.  If you’re using fresh fish, or chicken or shrimp, add it together with the sweet pepper.

The fish is done when it's no longer translucent, and breaks apart easily.  Chicken is done when its flesh is firm and grainy, and shrimp are done when they turn pink and start to curl.  No translucency for any of these proteins allowed!

Using a large shallow pan helps.  See how smooth it got? It still has a few lumps but they dissolved after the fish went in.

Minutes before the protein is cooked, stir in the chopped cilantro.  Squeeze the lime over the works and remove from heat.  I served this over coconut basmati rice, and at lunch with a minted watermelonsalad.  Recipe for that is coming soon.  

I'm not an expert when it comes to Thai curries, so I'm grateful to this easy but luscious recipe.  Let me know how you like it.


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