The inspiration came from the Green Curry and the Pad Ped Fish dishes at my favorite Thai restaurant in Chicago, Ben’s Noodle and Rice. This restaurant became like a second kitchen for me when I lived in Andersonville neighborhood. What I love about Thai curries is the combination of spices and sweetness that come from coconut milk and also the vegetables.
In this dish, my idea is to create a vegetable curry that I’d pour over a crispy and firm baked white fish. I enjoy dishes that involve seafood and vegetables. A mixture of taste, texture, and colors in one dish makes the meal all the more exciting. Another thing I like about Thai curry dishes (in restaurants in the US at least) is the presence of bell peppers and eggplant. The softness of the eggplant and the crunchy bell peppers along with their different colors make the dish far from being boring.
So here’s how I make my curry dish:
(Caveat: I eyeball everything!)
In a food processor, chop and mix the following ingredients:
- 3 Shallots
- 5-6 Cloves of garlic
- 5 Long hot peppers (like cayenne)
- 1 Red bell pepper
- ½ Inch of ginger (or 1 teaspoon of ginger powder)
In a medium pot, add:
- 2-3 cups of water
- A pinch of turmeric powder and salt
- ½ Inch of galangal root
- 1 Lemon grass
- 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- The chopped and mixed curry ingredients
- Stay on medium heat until it bubbles
- Add half a can of light coconut milk (you can do the whole can if you want a thicker and richer broth) and stir to mix
Cut one big eggplant and two bell peppers into small cubes. Place the eggplants on a plate. Heat them up in a microwave oven for two minutes. This will expedite the cooking process of the eggplant. Want to veg-it-up? Go crazy! Add carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes into the curry.
Add the vegetables into the pot and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. Remove the galangal root, lemon grass, and kaffir lime leaves before serving. Turn the heat off.
Now, let’s talk about the fish:
- Place two or three fillets of your preferred firm white fish (like red snapper, sea bass, swai, or tilapia) on a plate
- Drizzle with apple vinegar (or lemon juice) for aroma
- Brush the surface lightly with vegetable oil (enough to coat the whole surface)
- Season with ginger powder, hot pepper powder, coriander powder, and salt. Rub evenly on both sides
- Let them sit and absorb the spices and goodness for about 10 minutes
- Place the fillets on a baking dish (might want to spray or lightly grease the dish first). Bake in the preheated 400-450 F oven for about 15-20 minutes until the fillets are crisp and firm but flake easily when pierced with a fork. (Broil to brown both sides if necessary)
Top the fish with vegetable curry or serve separately. The dish is perfect to enjoy with …white jasmine rice, of course.
Note: This is one of my flexible dishes. I can substitute the fish with other things. Try adding shrimp or chicken fillets into vegetable curry and let them cook together. Have fun and enjoy!