Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recipe: Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry

Today's recipe that you can prepare at home is Choo Chee Fish Curry and it comes to your kitchen via the exotic Southeast Asian kingdom of Thailand. It is a rich and flavorful dish and is best accompanied with a big bowl of Thai sticky rice. That sticky rice is going to serve an important function when eating this extra-spicy curry because it helps temper its heat quite well.

I'm not going the blur lines here, this curry is probably the hottest thing I serve in my home. It's not near the hottest thing I'll eat and enjoy, but it is plenty hot enough for my family. This dish packs a rich and delicious wallop for people who like spicy food, but for less robust palettes, well be careful who you prepare it for. It's just going to be too hot for some, but it does make believers out of others! My wife for instance. If you had told me all those years ago that she'd eat food this hot and not only enjoy it but request it, well I would have said you were deranged. Choo Chee Curry converted her to spicy foods.

It's also a full service seafood curry so try it with whatever makes sense. A lot of recipes call for shrimp, and I've seen others call for a kind of seafood stew which I'll be trying myself in the near future. I may even try the sauce over some panko-battered fried chicken. Now for the weird twist.

The weird twist of this dish (and hence its name) are the after effects. It makes me dream vividly and madly. At first I thought is was just a coincidence. However, after numerous similar post-chow-down experiences and even a few by my wife, I will caution you that maybe, just maybe you too may dream crazy, and dare I say forbidden and maddening things. You know, like being chased by the Teletubbies through a Jello cave while wearing a thick suit of woven angel hair pasta while aluminum foil hummingbirds whisper threats in your 31 ears.

Things like that. Still though, it's all worth it. IT REALLY IS!

Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry

1-2 lbs. of firm white fish fillets (I use tilapia or mahi-mahi)
All-purpose flour (to dredge the fish in)
4 TBS peanut oil
2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened)
Bottom half of 1 stalk of lemon grass (peeled into individual blades)
4 TBS red curry paste
1/2 cup of water
4 TBS fish sauce
3 TBS palm sugar (or brown or turbinado sugar)
2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
4 TBS green onions (sliced very thinly)
3 TBS fresh cilantro (chopped)

Cut the fish in to pieces about 2" x 3" inches. Dredge individually in flour, set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer cook the pieces of fish about 2-4 minutes per side until browned and crisp. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper towel while you prepare the cooking sauce.

Remove the unused oil from the pan and wipe out any residue. Replace the skillet over medium heat. Add half the coconut milk and the lemon grass blades and cook until it becomes fragrant and creamy.

Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly until well dissolved.

Add the remaining coconut milk, water, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, half of the green onions and half the cilantro. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer.

Add the fish pieces and simmer in the sauce for about 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon the curry sauce over and around the fish while it cooks.

Remove from heat.

Remove the lemon grass blades and discard.

Serve the fish in deep plates with the curry sauce generously spooned over it. Garnish with the remaining green onions and cilantro.

Pair with Thai sticky rice.

Dream madly children, dream madly.

Recipe: Crazy Dream Choo Chee Fish Curry from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

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