Fish Fridays: Thai Curried Cod
I’m not Catholic, nor did I grow up Catholic, but ever since I started working for the Catholic Church I’ve noticed oddchanges in my behavior. Like saying “God Bless you” to people in contexts not involving sneezing. Also as a result of work, I am well aware that yesterday was the first friday of Lent; that means no meat. So in observance of Catholic laws of abstinence, I decided to make some fish. Thai-curried cod, to be exact.
Anybody who knows me probably finds this odd for two reasons; the first addressed above in reference to my not being Catholic. But the second, more substantial cause for surprise and amazement is that for most of my life, in addition to avoiding eggs, I have refused to let the flesh of fish pass through my lips (with a few exceptions). As of a year or two ago I decided it was time to grow up and start eating our friends from the sea and stream. Not having eaten much fish, though, I still don’t have much of a taste for it, so it’s rare that I get the urge to make it. And when I do get the urge I am at a disadvantage from inexperience cooking fish. Poorly cooked fish does not breed desire to eat fish.
The most important factor in my enjoyment of fish is not overcooking it. Overcooked beef is a waste but not the end of the world, overcooked chicken gets dry but can still be eaten, but overcooked fish is disgusting. Once it starts to get on the medium side of medium rare the mealy texture is unbearable and all those bad fish flavors of my childhood nightmares start to come out. Too raw is not a problem, in fact, nigirizushi is probably my favorite way to eat fish. So when I am making fish I am vigilant with my paring knife, looking for the point when the flesh just begins to lose its translucent sheen. Notice the level of opacity of the bite on the left, and the overall texture, on the right.
The cod was very mild so this dish was mostly about the curry, which was very good, if a little rich since it was mostly coconut milk; I woke up the next morning feeling a little polluted. That might also have had to do with the (copious amounts of) Michigan wine this was beautifully paired with: Good Harbor Fishtown White.
Since this is a “recipe” post, here’s a recipe:
- 1/2# cod filet
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 t ginger, minced
- 2 t red curry paste
- 1/2 t brown sugar
- 1 c coconut milk
- 1 1/2 T lime juice
- 2 t fish sauce
- 3 T water
- 2 t minced cilantro
Heat some oil in a saucepan until it shimmers. Take off heat and add garlic, ginger, curry paste and sugar and stir till fragrant. Add coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce and water then bring to a boil. Reduce to one cup. Off heat stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper, then lid to keep warm.
Divide the cod filets into a couple of pieces of equal thickness. Salt and pepper the pieces, then coat with flour. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet until shimmering, then add the cod. Cook without touching it for 2-3 minutes, then flip. Cook for about 1-2 minutes more, making sure to check carefully after the first minute for the moment when the fish is perfectly cooked.
Cod on plate. Sauce on cod. Rice on side.