Monday, August 1, 2011

Malaysian Fish Curry

My friend Preeta was recently in town and, as we had done many times in many cities, we cooked a meal together. She rarely uses a recipe and all her food comes out tasting wonderful. This fish curry was no exception. I decided to attempt to re-create that delicious meal. Even though this version tasted different, it was flavorsome.

I’ve used the term ‘curry’ to describe several dishes on this site. The word is an Anglicization of the Tamil word kari which means ‘sauce’. In old Tamil, kari meant chewing, eating or biting. Some suggest that the modern spelling was influenced by the Middle English word cury which came from the French word cuire, which meant to cook. An early surviving document from this time is the 14th century cookbook titled Forme of Cury.

The term kari was meant to describe vegetables in a sauce served with rice, but was applied by Europeans to describe a large number of such dishes throughout Asia. Variations of this term (such as kori and kerrie) are now used in French, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Finnish and German.

In Britain, curry is the generic term used to describe South Asian entrees which are widely consumed throughout the country. One of the earliest British curry recipes appeared in the Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy (1747). Curries became popular during British colonialism and the subsequent migration from South Asia to Britain. Today curry is widely considered an integral part of British cuisine and experimentations with curry have resulted in chicken tikka masala and Coronation chicken.

Serves 4 people

3 tablespoons olive oil
5 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 lb green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 to 1 tablespoon brown sugar
7 ounces coconut milk
1 1/2 lb mild white fish filets (such as tilapia)

1. In a saucepan, sauté shallots and ginger in olive oil for 4 minutes.
2. Add garlic, tomatoes and green beans. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes.
3. Add curry paste and continue sautéing for 3 minutes.
4. Add fish sauce, brown sugar and coconut milk. Stir well and immediately add fish.
5. Sauté fish for 5-7 minutes until cooked.
6. Serve with rice.

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