It’s the season for some wonderful holiday cooking. In our part of the world this usually means a lot of comfort foods that bathe us in cheese, cream, bacon, and meat. While this is a good thing, sometimes we crave something different. A great way to mix things up is to make a coconut curry with fish. In Indian cooking the most common name is Kerala curry. The coconut milk base fits that craving for a creamy warm soup while the layer of ginger, chile, and other spices will hit your taste buds that aren’t used for casseroles and roasts.
What kind of fish should you use? King Mackerel is the most traditional choice this job. It’s firm and full flavored meat holds up well to the spice and heft of the curry. In fact, the fish used in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other places where curry is found is a relative of our mackerels here. Not the same fish but in the same family. You will see it called King Fish, Surmai, Seer Fish, among other names. They may not be the exact same species but they mostly fall in the same family of Scombrondini.
credit: Triangle Localista
A key element to this flavor diversion is tangy sourness that comes from Tamarind. You can find Tamarind paste in most stores and easily in an Asian grocery store that can be found near you in a quick search on Google Maps. If you don’t have it you can substitute lime for the sour ingredient. Sweet, spice and sour. That is the mix that makes coconut curry with mackerel something to try this holiday season.
There are numerous recipes out there. Here is one I tried last weekend that was a hit. For my family I reduced the chili powder and used a curry powder blend over individual spices. Ginger, garlic, onion, and curry powder (with Tumeric) are the minimum ingredients.
Note: King Mackerel is one of the fish under mercury warning here in NC. For the specifics, please visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services Mercury Advisory to get the full details and help in making your seafood selections. If you do not want to consume King Mackerel we have plenty of other options at the market for fish curry, just ask your market vendors!