I was asked in an interview “if it came down to having to decide on a final meal, what would that be?” (kinda morbid when you think about the question), but without any hesitation I said my mom’s Curry Kingfish served with hot (steamed or boiled) rice or roti. And while the recipe I’m about to share is EXCELLENT, it still doesn’t compare to her masterpiece.
3 lbs King Fish (sliced 3/4 inch)
1 lime (juice)
1 tablespoon salt divided (adjust)
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon curry powder (seasoning fish)
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 scotch bonnet pepper (sliced – remove the seeds and white rib to control the heat a bit)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2-3 cups veg oil for frying the fish
6 cloves garlic
2 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup water (cooking out the curry)
1 teaspoon ground roasted Geera (cumin)
1 teaspoon Anchar Masala
1 large tomato (diced finely)
2 cups water (gravy)
2 tablespoon Shado Beni (or cilantro)
Note. If you cannot source the Anchar Masala double up on the ground roasted cumin. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling Scotch Bonnet peppers. You’ll notice that while I had the fish sliced about 3/4 inch thick, I left the tail part about 4 inches long (as it tapers). I grew up appreciating that that was the prized part of the fish.. which mom always reserved for dad. I prefer sliced though.
Wash the fish pieces with cool water and the lime or lemon juice, rinse, drain and season. This means adding the onion, Scotch Bonnet pepper, black pepper, 3/4 of the salt, Caribbean Green Seasoning and 3/4 teaspoon Curry Powder (your fav). Mix well and allow to marinate for about one hour.
I like making this dish outdoors as I’m not a fan of the fried fish scent inside my home. Basically I set up a frying station that included the seasoned fish, flour on a large plate, wire rack lined with paper towels and the pot with oil heating on a medium/high flame for frying the fish.
Shake off any extra marinade off the fish pieces (reserve) and dust each piece of fish in the flour to coat evenly (the flour will do a couple things for us.. 1. Help to form a crust on the fish which later on will suck up the curry sauce and 2. It will help to thicken the gravy at the end). Then into the hot oil for about 2 1/2 – 3 mins on each side. We’ll cook it to about 80 % cooked as it will cook further in the curry gravy later. Remember to flip them for even cooking and set on the paper towels to drain when fried.
Take 2 tablespoon of the oil you fried the fish in (or use fresh oil) and place it in a deep pan on a medium flame. Then scrape off the remaining marinade (onion etc) into the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, along with the garlic.
After which you’ll add the curry powder (2 1/2 tablespoon) into the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 3-4 minutes. This step will allow the spices which makes up the curry blend, to bloom. Stir well.
In the same bowl you marinated the fish, swish around 1 cup of water to pick any remaining goodness, then into the pot with the curry base and turn the heat back up to medium. Stir/scrape the pan, then add the Anchar Masala and roasted Cumin (geera), stir well and bring to a boil. This step will cook the rawness out of the curry (a gritty taste you get when curry is not allowed to cook off). Here’s where you’ll also add the tomato. The tomato will do two things for us. 1. Help to thicken the final gravy and 2. It will bring and acidity to the dish to help balance the overall flavor.
We now want to burn off all that liquid and intensify the curry flavor of the entire dish. Crank the heat to high. The goal is to get a thick sort of paste and for you to start seeing the oil we stared off with as you move your spoon.
We’re almost done. When you get to this point (heat on high), add the 2 cups of water, then gently tuck the fired fish pieces into that gravy.
As it comes to a boil. reduce to a simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes. Add the remaining salt (adjust to your liking) and remember to flip (be VERY gentle) the pieces of fish so they all get an even opportunity to take a bath in that lovely curry gravy.
Once your salt is good, the gravy thickness to your liking.. toss in the Shado Beni aka culantro or if you can’t source it, use cilantro (coriander).
Note. It will thicken further as it cools, so be mindful of that. Now get ready to serve up with your fav rice, roti or if all fails.. even sliced bread yea. Mom would be proud of my take on her dish. Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/