CEiMB: Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

At Craving Ellie in My Belly a different blogger from the group hosts each week, meaning the recipe we cook is chosen by that person. A couple weeks ago Sara, who runs CEiMB, e-mailed to let me know my week was coming up and asked me to select a recipe. I pulled out my copy of “The Food You Crave” and pored over every page. I wrote down about 10-15 recipes that I just had to try. Several of them have already been covered by the group so I crossed those off and took my short list to Ryan. We narrowed it down to this Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth and one other recipe, and I chose this one simply because it’s less like anything I’ve made before. It was obviously a very scientific process.

Several years ago, I spent the summer studying abroad in London. While most people think of Fish and Chips as the trademark food of the UK, I would have to argue that Indian food is more predominant among locals. I’m not going to lie, I mostly stuck with Fish and Chips. Things such as spotted dick, black pudding, and bangers and mash just didn’t appeal to me and neither did Indian food. I remember walking down the street and smelling curry wafting out of tons of restaurants, including pubs. I’ve always been a little skeptical of curry. In general, I’m not a fan of the smell, and since scent and taste are usually related, I wasn’t sure I would like the flavor either. In retrospect, I wish I had been more adventurous and tried things I couldn’t get at home, but I was young and more concerned about drinking (which wasn’t yet legal for me back home) and trying to cook frozen pizzas in our dorm’s outdated oven without starting a fire (which did happen to someone else on my hall).

Since then I’ve been slowly warming up to the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone. I mean, heck, I use mustard now without freaking out. How bad can curry be, right? I first experimented with a very little bit of curry a while back, but the dish seemed to be lacking flavor so I didn’t get a real idea of the flavor. So I went into this with a little bit of hesitation, but I had faith that Ellie would not steer me wrong. She did not disappoint!

Considering this was my first time having anything curried or eating halibut, I don’t have much to compare the recipe to, but I will say that Ryan and I both gave it two thumbs up. I could practically see the fear in Ryan’s face as I handed him his plate of bright yellow fish and rice, but after the first bite he gave me a big grin and mumbled something like “Wow”. There was probably an explicative or two in what he actually said, but the general idea was that he was surprisingly impressed. The curry was not overpowering, just really flavorful. I was afraid the coconut milk might make it sweet, but the two ingredients blended well together and balanced each other out. For anyone who hasn’t tried curry before, I would highly recommend this dish.

The original recipe calls for microwaved spinach, but since I pretty much decided that I hate spinach, I substituted some baby bok choy that I saw at Whole Foods last weekend. I also sauteed the bok choy in a little bit of olive oil instead of microwaving it. Cilantro isn’t one of my favorite ingredients either so I used a frozen cube of cilantro instead of a bunch of fresh leaves. The only other variation from the original recipe is that I only made two pieces of fish and served the extra broth over the rice. If I were going to make this for four people, I would double the broth simply because it was fantastic over the rice.

My only complaint about this dish is that halibut is expensive which is something I didn’t realize until I showed up at the fish counter on Sunday. Since I was in unchartered territory, I didn’t want to stray too far from the original recipe. I’m also not incredibly familiar with different types of fish, so I didn’t know what would be comparable to halibut. Now that I’ve made it, I think the halibut could really be swapped with any firm, mild fish. The halibut reminded me a lot of cod, which is usually a little cheaper, but I also think this would be a great preparation for chicken for those who don’t like fish.

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
½ cup light coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
12 ounces halibut fillet, skin removed
3 cups baby bok choy
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced, green part only
2 tablespoons lime juice
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the fish in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 minutes.

In a separate skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute bok choy in 2 tsp olive oil just until tender, about 1 minute.

Arrange a pile of bok choy in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top with the fish fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the sauce and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.

Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” p. 232
2 servings | 9 POINTS

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May 21, 2009. recipes.

13 Comments

  1. Jennifer replied:

    I’m like you when it comes to curry, cilantro and fish! I left out the cilantro but decided to be adventurous and give this a try, and like you I thought it was a keeper. Thanks for expanding your culinary horizons – it helped me expand mine. :-)

  2. lailablogs replied:

    Looks absolutely delicious … Laila .. http://lailablogs.com/

  3. Aggie replied:

    I think it would be great with shrimp too! This was a great pick, thank you! I have never made anything like it before, I was hoping for a little more spice/heat but I’ll just add it in next time! Your fish looks great!

  4. applec replied:

    It wasn’t one of our favorites but after reading everyones other ideas e.g shrimp, I might try it again.
    Good Job, Liz.

  5. Farah replied:

    Fantastic choice. I’m so glad you liked it :)
    I’ll definitely make this again but i might try it with chicken.

  6. Leslie replied:

    Thank you for making a super pick! This one is going into my weeknight rotation, and I agree that it would be great with other kinds of fish, or even with chicken or tofu. Very inspiring that you picked this one even though some of the ingredients took you out of your comfort zone!

  7. Sara replied:

    It seems that this was a great pick. I am going to make it tonight, curry paste and all.

  8. pamela replied:

    It was a great choice, but I really want to try it again with the curry. I just couldn’t find it. Yours looks great, though!

  9. nick replied:

    I’ve found that my concern with drinking has oft kept me away from other things that I might’ve enjoyed even more Read: hangover-less mornings, good decision making skills, tight abdomen :)

    I’m looking forward to giving this a try. Seems like this was well received for the most part. Thank you for being part of our group and nice job with the post!

  10. Mary Ann replied:

    Great choice! We absolutely loved it. Your picture looks amazing.
    I think any mild, firm fish would do great in this recipe too.

  11. Marthe replied:

    This is delicious with chicken too!! I absolutely loved it, thank you so much for picking this recipe!!

  12. Elyse replied:

    I studied in London a few years back, as well. I think it was actually Brick Lane that inspired my love of Indian food. I’m so glad that you ended up loving this dish and conquering your curry fear! (Oh, and I tried Blood Pudding when I visited Ireland…not so bad, if you don’t think about what you’re eating :) ) Love your blog! Can’t wait to keep reading more.

  13. littlehouseonthegreatflats replied:

    This looks delicious! I’m definitely going to have to give this a try, as I love both spinach AND cilantro! :)

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