Coconut fish curry

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Appears in

Food and Travels: Asia

Food and Travels

By Alastair Hendy

Published 2004

  • About

This is your classic coconut curry. Cooked beef, chicken or duck could be swapped for fish. Your choice. Halved green beans could be swapped for aubergine too.


  • 8 shallots (preferably Thai), 4 finely sliced, 4 finely chopped
  • vegetable or groundnut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Thai red curry paste, bought or home-made
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn (optional)
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar or caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 x 400 ml cans coconut milk
  • 400 ml light chicken stock (use fresh, instant or the Asian stock)
  • 6 round baby Thai aubergines, halved (optional) 500 g skinned fish fillet (white fish, reef fish or salmon)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • good handful of Thai basil leaves


In a wok, fry the sliced shallots in a shallow pool of oil until brown and crisp, then drain on kitchen roll. Strain out all but 2 tbsp of the oil. Fry the chopped shallots until softened, then add the curry paste and stir-fry until the paste darkens a little. Stir in the lime leaves (if using), the sugar and fish sauce, then tip in the coconut milk and stock, and bubble up. Gently allow to murmur for about 10 minutes, so all the flavours meld, adding the aubergine halfway through (if using). Cut the fish into small chunks and pop these in too, and gently cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and half the basil and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to show signs of skin-burst. Taste, and add a dash of fish sauce if it needs salt. Ladle into bowls, scatter with the crisp shallots and remaining basil, and eat with rice.