Yellow Fish Curry
(Gulai Masin Ikan)
This dish epitomizes the cuisine of Indonesia: earthy, wild, lush and vibrant. This recipe can also be made with mackerel, perch, or squid.
1 stalk lemongrass
5 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1" piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2" piece fresh or frozen and thawed
turmeric, peeled and chopped
3 shelled candlenuts, chopped
2 tbsp. peanut oil
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
20 green bird's-eye chiles, stemmed
1 1 1/2-2-lb. whole red snapper, cleaned
2-3 kaffir lime leaves
1. Bruise lemongrass with dull side of cleaver or large kitchen knife, tie it into a knot, and set aside. Crush together shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and candlenuts with a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a wok or medium wide pot over medium heat. Add shallot paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Add coconut milk and chiles and bring to a simmer. Add fish, lime leaves, and lemongrass and cook, gently stirring and occasionally basting fish with sauce, until fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Remove and discard lemongrass and lime leaves just before serving. Serve at room temperature, with Steamed White Rice, if you like.
First published in Saveur, March 2002
Dan's notes: This is great! And easy! (once you clean the fish...) the chiles are awesome; actually do put 20 chiles in, because once you cook them in the coconut milk and stuff, the flavor is just right, and then when you eat one, it's fiery but not painful.