Thai Fish Curry

A good curry is as much a part of many people’s repertoire as meat and three veg, and it’s all the better when made with a homemade curry paste.

Thai-style fish curry
serves 4

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g pumpkin (squash), peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 250ml chicken stock or water (half a stock cube)
  • 3 long red chillies, split in half lengthways
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed in your hand
  • 80ml fish sauce, plus extra to taste (start with about 50ml)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped palm sugar, plus extra to taste (or sugar)
  • 4 x 200g skinless firm white fish fillets, such as barramundi, blue-eye trevalla or cod (frozen basa fillets work well)
  • Green beans, cut into rough 5cm pieces
  • Juice of 1 lime, or to taste, plus extra wedges to serve
  • Thinly sliced small red chilli, to taste
  • Thai basil, coriander leaves and steamed jasmine rice, to serve (coconut rice also works well)

Green curry paste

  • 6–8 green bird’s eye chillies, or to taste (or other hot green chilies)
  • 1½tbsp finely chopped galangal (or ginger)
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, finely chopped (or the zest of a lemon)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 1tsp finely grated kaffir lime zest (optional)
  • 3 coriander roots, soaked in water to remove grit, then drained and finely chopped (or a bunch or coriander stalks)
  • 1tsp finely chopped fresh turmeric or 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 red Asian shallots, coarsely chopped (or an onion)
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1tsp shrimp paste (omit if you don’t have any)

Make the curry paste by pounding the chillies in a mortar with a pinch of sea salt to form a paste. Add each of the remaining paste ingredients one at a time, pounding after each addition until a paste forms, then pound until homogenous. A blender is fine for this.

Warm the oil over a medium–high heat, add the pumpkin and fry, turning occasionally, for 4–5 minutes until golden. Set aside on kitchen towel.

Cook half of the coconut cream in a large saucepan over a high heat for 4–5 minutes until the coconut cream starts to separate and crack. Add the curry paste and stir for 6–8 minutes until it becomes aromatic and the raw taste has cooked out.

Add the remaining coconut cream and the stock, reserved pumpkin, chilli, lime leaves, fish sauce and sugar, and simmer for about 8–10 minutes until well-flavoured and the pumpkin is tender. If usung frozen fish add at the same time as the pumpkin.

Add the fish pieces in a single layer, then add the green beans. Cover and simmer for a further 5–6 minutes until just cooked through.

Add the lime juice and then taste to check the balance of flavours – it should taste spicy, sour, salty and sweet. Add a little extra sliced chilli, lime juice, fish sauce or palm sugar to your taste if you need to.

Serve hot, scattered with Thai basil and coriander, with steamed rice.

This is an edited extract from Australian Food by Matt Moran



Mike Powell

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