A while back while doing one of those internet “20 Questions” I was asked “what would be your last meal?” and without even blinking my eye I said “my moms curry king fish”. Every winter before our parents head back down to the Caribbean to revel in that wonderful Caribbean sunshine, it’s my dad’s job to search out a huge King fish at the local Asian grocery stores and mom’s chore, is to ress ah curry on it.
My dad is very picky when it comes to choosing the ‘right’ King fish, so he starts his search about a month in advance. Maybe I’ll get him to share his tips with us in a coming video in the Food FAQ channel. After making a huge pot of curry king fish, she them place a slice along with some of the rich gravy into freezer containers (yup, we have special containers just for this yearly tradition) and they’re then sent down to me to last the winter. That woman’s curry fish is absolutely divine and though I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to really duplicate her recipe as she does.
4 slices King Fish (about 1.5 lbs)
1 tablespoon Caribbean green seasoning
2 cloves garlic
3 leaves shado beni (or cilantro)
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
1 cup water
4 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoon veg oil
oil for frying the fish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup bell pepper (optional)
1 scallion (green onion/spring onion)
1/2 teaspoon amchar masala
Notes: You’ll need the juice of half a lime or lemon to wash the fish as it’s typically done in the Caribbean. The King fish slices will have a center bone, so do let your guests know when serving. The bell pepper is not a traditional ingredient, but I’m making use of it before it goes bad in my fridge.
To make your own amchar masala, toast the following in a dry frying pan… 4 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp whole fennel seeds, 1 tsp brown mustard seeds, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds and then grind in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
Wash the slices of King fish with the juice of half a lime or lemon and some cool water, drain and set aside as you chop the onion, scallion, garlic, tomato and scotch bonnet pepper. As we’ve discussed in the past try not to use any of the seeds in the scotch bonnet of you don’t want that raw heat, remember to wear gloves if you’ve sensitive skin and don’t forget to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling them. Give the shado beni a rough chop as well and set aside for later.
Place the fish slices in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, tomato, scallions, scotch bonnet pepper, amchar masala, 1/3 of the curry powder, 1/2 of the onion, green seasoning and bell pepper if you choose to use it.
Seal the bowl with some plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour. After which it’s time to quickly fry each slice of fish as part of this tasty curry fish recipe. I basically had a small station set up. The seasoned fish, a plate with the flour, the oil for frying (about 2 cups veg oil) and a wire basket lined with paper towels to drain off extra oil after frying.
Shake off any extra marinade on the fish, then dust in flour and place in the hot oil. Be gentle when placing the fish in the hot oil, so it doesn’t splatter and burn you. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes (until you start getting a bit of colour) as we don’t want to overcook the fish. We will be cooking it further when we create the curry sauce. Place the fried pieces of fish on the paper towels to drain as we create the tasty curry sauce.
In a deep saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoon of veg oil on med/high heat, then toss in the remaining half of the onion and garlic. Reduce your heat to low and let that gently cook for a couple minutes. You should have a nice flavor base started at this point, so it’s time to toss in the remaining curry powder (I used a madras blend from the Caribbean) and stir well. It will start to go darker and grainy. Stir and allow to bloom for 3 minutes! Your kitchen should have that ‘wicked’ scent by now. It’s now time to empty all the marinade (chopped stuff) into the pot and give it a good stir. Turn your heat to medium and bring to a boil. In the same bowl you had the fish marinating, add the 1 cup of water to is and swish it around to pick up any remaining marinade.
Pour in that water into the pan and bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 3-5 minutes to allow all those flavors to marry and make good things happen in that pan.
It’s now time to gently add back the pieces of fish to the pot to help complete the curry fish dish. I simply used my hands to do this part as I didn’t want the fish to fall apart and I had to shake the fish pieces so they would make it among the lovely sauce. Allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes and if you can.. flip the pieces of fish. If not, spoon some of that curry sauce all over the fish as it simmers away.
The sauce will start to thicken up, the fish will be infused by all the wonderful flavors we created and your curry fish will now be ready to serve. Rice, roti, ground provision.. even on it’s own, this curry fish will be a hit! As you turn off the stove, top with the chopped shado beni (or cilantro) and place the lid on the pan. The remaining heat will heighten the natural flavor of the shado beni and it will add a lovely undertone.
Note: Remember the sauce will thicken further after it cools down and the residual heat form the pan will also contribute to this, so don’t worry if the sauce seems a bit runny at first.
Admittedly this is an excellent curry King fish, but it’s nothing as scrumptious as the curry fish our mom makes… among other things.