Alaskan Wild Caught Cod with Green Curry Coconut Sauce on Jasmine Rice
For the Fish
3-1/2 to 4 lbs Fresh Wild Caught Alaskan Cod (also called Pacific Cod) cut into equal portions
½ cup unbleached flour
Fresh ground black pepper
Peanut or Canola oil
For the Curry Paste and Finished Coconut Sauce
1 full tablespoon white or green peppercorns
¼ tablespoon black peppercorns
½ tablespoon cardamom (pre-ground)
1 tablespoon coriander (pre-ground)
½ tablespoon cumin (pre-ground)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg (pre-ground)
1 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar (to be added at the end of the finished green curry coconut sauce)
NOTE: You can grind all of these on your own in a granite mortar and pestle, except the nutmeg which will need to be grated first. All of this will result in better and more nuanced flavors but can buy them pre-ground. I recommend grinding your own. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor or blender but the flavors will not be as complex. Additionally, you could buy a pre-made green curry but it will be nothing like this in terms of richness and freshness of flavor and the ingredients could be quite different.
3 medium sized garlic cloves- minced
1/8th cup minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium sized lime- Zest the whole skin down to the flesh just before you hit the juice of the lime.
4 medium sized jalapeños- seeded and finely chopped
1 large shallot finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped Thai basil (you may substitute Italian basil)
16oz. can organic unsweetened coconut milk (you’ll only be using the creamiest part so DON’T shake it up, you’ll just spoon off the heavy cream into a small sauce pan). Save the watery potion to add back into the sauce if it needs thinning.
Thai Fish Sauce to taste (I like Viet Huong, but there are many others-Just get the highest quality you can find from your market.)
Preparing the Green Curry Paste
In 2000 I started learning to cook Thai food as a way to decompress from my hectic work life. Thai food has a rich and powerful range of flavors and an ancient history. Much of it is fast paced and requires complete focus and its very healthy. Making curries is particularly satisfying, especially in eliminating stress. I make mine in a traditional Thai granite mortar and pestle of medium size. The pounding and mashing of the ingredients to achieve a rich paste is physically engaging, the smells are wonderful and the end result are deep rich flavors that can’t be beat.
I work in batches and make about a pint of paste at a time and use as much as I need in my coconut sauce based on taste. There are nearly infinite opportunities for experimentation. This is just one interpretation that works out beautifully in pairing with Ledger David Cellars 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.
One word of caution, if you’re in a hurry, this part may just cause frustration. Slow down and focus on the task at hand and you’ll be well rewarded. The rest is easy.
DRY INGREDIENTS FIRST
Start with the dry ingredients. Grind the white and black peppercorns until fine and then add the coriander seed, cardamom, nutmeg, sea salt and cumin and set aside.
NEXT GRIND THE WET INGREDIENTS
After all the wet ingredients are finely chopped or nearly minced, start adding the garlic, ginger and shallots then the jalapeños lime zest and basil. Slowly and persistently keep grinding these wet items into a paste. A little extra coarse salt will help breakdown these ingredients. Continue until you have a nice green paste.
Add the dry ingredients back into the wet and grind until thoroughly entrained and you have a nice paste. Your paste is ready to add to the coconut milk to finish your sauce.
To finish the sauce, heat the coconut milk cream until it just starts to break/boil. Reduce the heat and add about three tablespoons the paste and cook slowly for 10 minutes of so. Additionally I add about a tablespoon of sugar to the sauce and a handful of finely chopped basil right at the end before plating. Keep warm and set aside to place on the fish when they are cooked.
Add salt and pepper to taste to about a ½ cup of flour. Pat the cod fillets lightly dry and dust them thoroughly with the flour. In a large cast iron skillet or cast iron wok set to medium high heat enough peanut or canola oil to nicely coat the bottom. Heat until the oil glistens and add the fish cook on first side until golden and crispy. Carefully flip once until the second side is done and remove to a wire racked tray and keep in the oven if needed at 300 degrees. Note: This gives you a little extra time to plate the rice and so on.
Plate about a cup (or portion to your guests liking) of cooked jasmine rice, place the finished cod on the rice and sauce the fish with the green curry. Serve immediately. I like to add a slice of fresh cantaloupe or other melon, but fresh salads and so forth are also nice sides when it is hot out outside.
This green curry with cod was a huge hit with my guests. The pairing with the Ledger David 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is superb. Enjoy.
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