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Tilapia Green Curry Recipe

Tilapia Green Curry
Makes: 4 to 5 servings

Don’t be daunted by the length of the ingredient list in this recipe from Kerala. It all comes together without much fuss into a hot, fresh curry sauce bathing bite-size chunks of fish fillets. Choose any fish you like; we suggest tilapia or any firm fish, such as cod. The tempering is added after the fish cooks, as a final flavoring that rounds things out.

Serve with rice, a vegetable dish such as Spiced Grated Carrots, Kerala style, and a fresh salad.

What to buy: Fish Tamarind—This flavoring is not in fact related to tamarind—its English name refers to its culinary use as a souring agent in fish dishes, in Kerala. It is used as a souring agent in other dishes, as well, especially in Keralan and Gujarti cooking. Fish tamarind comes from a fruit (Garcinia indica or G. cambogia) that is cut into strips and then dried, so that it looks like blackened lumps of leather. … Fish tamarind is not widely available in North America, but you may find it in most Sri Lankan and Indian grocery stores. True tamarind can be substituted for either fish tamarind or goraka, as we do in this book, using about 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp (dissolved in hot water and strained) for each piece of fish tamarind called for in the traditional recipe.

INGREDIENTS
  • About 1 1/2 pounds tilapia or other fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 2 cups water (1 cup if using tomato)
  • 4 to 6 pieces fish tamarind, or substitute 1 cup chopped (preferably green) tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Masala Paste:

  • 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 6 green cayenne chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed coriander leaves and stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut or substitute dried shredded coconut mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Tempering:

  • About 4 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 4 to 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
  • 3 green cayenne chiles, stemmed and cut in half
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Rinse the fish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces, and set aside.
  2. To prepare the masala paste, place the ginger, garlic, shallots, chiles, and fresh coriander in a food processor, mini-chopper, or stone mortar and process or grind to a coarse paste. Add the coconut and process or grind to a paste (if the mixture seems dry, add a little water as necessary to make a paste). Transfer to a bowl and stir in the ground coriander and turmeric; set aside.
  3. To prepare the tempering, heat the ghee or butter in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the curry leaves, wait a moment, then add the shallots and garlic. Lower the heat to medium and cook until starting to soften, for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chiles and cook until the shallots are very soft and touched with brown, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or karhai or a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, and when they have popped, add the curry leaves and masala paste. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil rises to the surface, about 5 minutes. Add the water and fish tamarind or tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the salt and the fish and simmer, turning the fish once, for 3 to 5 minutes, until just barely cooked through.
  5. Add the tempering mixture and simmer for a minute, then serve hot.

Beverage pairing: A to Z Pinot Gris, Oregon. The spice and vegetable flavors of the green curry suggest a wine that has a “green” edge itself. Pinot Gris, a specialty of Oregon, fits the bill. This inexpensive version has a lot of flavor, is wonderfully versatile, and is just slightly off dry, which can soothe the mouth if the curry gets too spicy.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.