Serving
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Indonesian Fish Curry
Indonesia - Banda Islands
  -   Kara Ikan
Serves
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
2 main  
***
1-3/4 hr  
Most
Mackerel is a prized fish through most of the world, but it's an oily fish (lots of Omega 3) and many Americans consider it too strong in flavor. I quite like mackerel and find this a very fine light curry.



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1/2
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T
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in

oz
cl
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in



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T
c
c
T
t
Mackerel whole (1)  
Potatoes (2)
Cumin seeds
-- Curry Paste
Turmeric root (3)
Thai Chilis (4)
Shallots
Garlic
----- Aromatics
Nutmeg whole
Galangal root (5)
Pandanus leaf (6)
Cassia stick (7)
Cloves whole
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Oil
Water
Coconut Milk
Palm Sugar (opt)
Salt
Prep   -   (40 min)
  1. Clean MACKEREL (if you didn't have the fish guy do it) and cut to prepare for cooking (see Note-1). Crosswise into sections about 1-1/2 inch long is good. Authentically you should include the head in the curry (be sure to pull out the gills) but you may not wish to be that authentic.
  2. Peel POTATOES and cut into about 3/4 inch chunks.
  3. Roast CUMIN SEEDS in a dry skillet until fragrant, cool and grind fine.
  4. Chop TURMERIC ROOT, CHILIS, SHALLOTS and GARLIC fine. Crush into a paste in a large mortar, adding in the order given. If you have to use a miniprep food processor or some such device you may have to add 1/2 t of water or so.
  5. Crack NUTMEG open and use one half. Slice GALANGAL into thick slices and bruise them with a kitchen mallet. Tie Pandanus Leaf into a knot. Mix all with Cassia Stick and Cloves.
Run   -   (1 hr - 30 min cook, 30 min rest)
  1. In a spacious sauté pan heat OIL over medium heat and stir fry Curry Paste until aromatic but not at all browned, then stir in Aromatics Mix and fry stirring until aromatic (1 to 2 minutes).
  2. Stir in Potatoes and fry stirring until well coated, then add Water and Coconut Milk. Simmer until Potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in Mackerel and cook stirring occasionally until just cooked through (5 to 7 minutes). Stir in Palm Sugar (if used) and Cumin along with Salt to taste. If you have time, let sit 30 minutes to mature flavors and reheat just before serving You can use this time to make your rice.
  4. Remove whole Aromatics and serve with plenty of Jasmine rice.
NOTES:
  1. Mackerel:   Atlantic Mackerel is my favorite but Pacific / Japanese / Chub Mackerel will work fine - or Pacific Sierra if you want a milder mackerel. In Indonesia they just clean out the guts and cut the fish crosswise, but most Americans are not accustomed to dealing with bony fish in that form. For this reason I cut off the head and cut out the dorsal fins, then split the fish into two halves by pulling out the backbone. The ribs also pull very easily. Aso pull out the centerline spines with long nose pliers - they are easy to feel and pull out. Then cut into into convenient pieces. For more on mackerel see our Mackerel page.
  2. Potatoes:   medium potatoes like White Rose work well in recipes of this sort. Avoid "Yukon Gold" type potatoes which turn to mush with long simmering. For details see our Potatoes page.
  3. Turmeric root:   yellow turmeic, not white. If you don't have fresh turmeric substitute 1/2 t dried turmeric.
  4. Thai Chilis:   Two of these make a curry with a noticeable bite, particularly in the finish, but it's mild by Southern California standards - use your own best judgement. A good substitute would be one chili serrano, not as hot but larger. For details see our Chili Page.
  5. Galangal: looks sort of like Ginger Root but is much harder. Find in Southeast Asian groceries, fresh or frozen. If you just can't get it use Ginger Root (different but workable). For details see our Galangal page.
  6. Pandanus: this leaf, found frozen in Southeast Asian and Pacific groceries, often labeled "Bai Toey", contributes a vanilla-like flavor. If you can't get it, leave it out. For details see our Pandanus - Screwpine page.
  7. Cassia:   not a problem - what's called "Cinnamon sticks" in the U.S. is actually Cassia, not Cinnamon. For details see our Cinnamon / Cassia page.
  8. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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