Sunday, April 05, 2009

Some like it hot, others don't: Thai Fish curry

This recipe is for the "others", it's mild and mingling a lot of interesting flavours. It's the first time I used angostura bitter and only 1/2 tsp at that! I always thought it to be an ingredient for alcoholic beverages only; it was fun to hear the liquor store manager describing it as "a kind of Maggi". I was wondering what exactly that 1/2 tsp would do to the dish... Frankly I'm not able to tell you. Not yet. The final dish sure was delicious.
To truly experience the difference in flavour the author of the book advises you to marinate raw shrimps in garlic, divide in two and add a few drops of angostura bitter to one batch, grill both batches and notice the difference. I plan to try that!

The book "Taste" makes for an interesting read; it's in my bookcase for a while now and while I read it from cover to cover I have only made 2 or 3 recipes but I plan to keep it downstairs for a while to explore further. So far each and every recipe is a hit. The set up from this book is quite different from what you're used to, categories aren't the usual appetizer, entree, dessert chapters. It is based on individual flavours and what they do to each other when combined. The author explains and gives examples of each flavour and then follows up with recipes (from sweet to drinks and soups to savoury) where you experience what she describes. You'll be finding chapters as Sour, Salt, Bitter, Sweet, and Savoury -or umami-. My sons' favourite fried rice recipe comes from her and you can't believe how simple it is but it blows you away on flavour.

First I'd like to share this curry recipe, it's from "Taste" by Sybil Kapoor.

8 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbs fresh -lemon- thyme, finely chopped (I used regular thyme)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp finely chopped habañero pepper (I used dried aleppo pepper)
juice of two limes
6 fish fillets (snapper/cod/

Mix spring onions, thyme, garlic, pepper and lime juice. Rub the fish with the angostura bitter and cover with marinade; make sure there's some under the fish as well or flip halfway through marinating time. Cover and marinate for 20-30 minutes

4 tbs sunflower oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 tbs curry powder (I used a red Thai curry powder which is somewhat milder, sweeter even)
4oo ml coconut milk
salt, pepper

Heat oil on low and fry onions 10 minutes or until soft and golden. Add curry powder and cook for another 4 minutes. Push onion to the side and quickly cook fillets on one side (it should have a slight coloring), flip over and cook the other side for 1 minute. The fish is not fully done yet. Take the fish out and keep warm. 
Turn up the heat and add remainder of the marinade plus coconut milk to the pan, bring to a boil, lower the flame and simmer for 10 minutes. Return fish fillets to the pan and poach for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. 
Serve with rice (although I really like to have naan, tortilla or roti with this as well). Spinach, or stir-fried vegetables will go very well with this.

We all really really liked it, I had a small bowl of Greek yoghurt ready for those who thought it too spicy but it wasn't necessary at all. The heat of Aleppo pepper is far milder than Habañero. I made this as part of a saturday night dinner with company but since it's easy to make and doesn't take too long to prepare it will make a delicious meal for a weekday as well.


  1. You never cease to intrigue! I like the sound of this very much. This I must give this a try.

  2. Who'd have thought it. Angostura bitters in food, will have to try it. I certainly love it in gin - yes please!

  3. This is beautiful, I never heard of that cookbook before.

  4. I too associate angostura bitters with cocktails, not with fish.
    Intriguing! Must try it sometime - after I move house :)
    And I'll google the book and probably add it to my wishlist.

  5. Great picture!! interesting booze too, never heard of it. Funny this XL-label on the bottle!

  6. How interesting! I've never cooked with angostura bitters before, and certainly didn't realise it was being referred to as being like Maggi!

  7. Dat ziet er lekker uit. Ik neem het recept van je mee: Bedankt!

  8. The bitters in the dish is so interesting. I too thought it was only for drinks. That looks so good.

  9. I love a Thai curry, but haven't tried making a fish one. And I do have the bitters in my bar... but haven't opened it!
    I'll take a look at this book, sounds really good! Who knew you could cook with bitters?

  10. That fish curry looks good!

  11. first time here :) I made this today it was amazing, just added some spinach at the end for some extra color.


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