fish in curry sauce

this recipe, or a version thereof, came from a weird book i bought for rich when we first started going out (and when it wouldn't have crossed my mind that we would one day end up married). it must have been for his birthday, or the first christmas together. no idea why i bought it - must have been sufficiently impersonal for him not to think i am a bunny boiler, and inspired enough in that i recognised his love of chilli and thailand.

it's one of those coffee table jobs, all glossy pages, big double spreads of pictures and romantic introductions to different regions. i suspect the thai tourist office had as much to do with it as the recipe contributors.

i don't think i have ever cooked from it - partly because of all of the above, and partly because it is so large as to be unwieldy. it's twice the size or any other book i own. it sat on top of the fridge for years, when that was enough space to hold all my cookery books, and is now covered with a layer of oily grime.

the reason why i looked at it again is because we went to a thai supermarket in hackney. oh, the joy of weird and wonderful things in there! the pigs' trotters in plastic bags, nestling in the fridge like so many plastic chickens in tescos! the weird-looking fruit i've never seen (and some i have - i could smell that durian from a mile off),! the industrial-sized bags of frozen prawns, squid and fish! the fifty seven varieties of chilli sauce! i could have spent a fortune in there it was so amazing.

in the end, we were quite restrained but we came home with a tub of green curry paste, some morning glory (possibly my favourite veg ever), and some incredibly fragrant thai basil. so one night last week, when we had no time to make anything from scratch, we leafed through this monster of a cookery book and - lo and behold, there it was! fish in curry sauce. two minutes to prepare, 20 minutes cooking, some garnish - and you get the nicest meal you can imagine.

the recipe uses red snapper - we used sea bass as that was all we had. you might think it's a waste of bass and ordinarily you'd be right but on this occasion, the fish was a supermarket specimen and a little...well...fishy. you can use what you like, i imagine, as long as it's the whole thing, on the bone.


2 sea bass or red snappers
2 tbs green curry sauce
500 ml coconut milk
25 ml fish sauce
4-5 lime leaves
a small bunch of thai or ordinary basil
a handful of morning glory
olive oil

heat the oil in a lidded pan sufficiently large to accommodate both fish. fry the curry paste for a minute, then add the coconut milk and the fish sauce, and stir to mix. next, add the fish laying them side by side, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to simmer. put on the lid and cook for ten minutes.

turn the fish - good luck with that - and add the morning glory. cook for another ten minutes or a bit less.

if the sauce is still runny - and much will depend on the consistency of your coconut milk - take the fish out and keep warm, then reduce the sauce so it's thick.

add the torn basil and spoon over the fish. sprinkle with crushed or torn lime leaves and, if you really love chilli, some chopped up small red ones.


  1. Never heard of morning glory. Well, not as dinner. C'est quoi?

  2. morning glory is like a green leafy thing, almost like water spinach. it's got a tubey, crunchy stem and then some thin leaves on top. i think i like the texture but also cos it usually gets doused in LOTS of chilli and fish sauce. kangkong belacan (google it) could possibly be one of my most favourite dishes in the world.


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