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Mountain whitefish are not often prized catches for anglers but they make for a great meal! The tender, mild-tasting, white flesh is great for many different uses. This recipe uses filets cut into pieces to make a delicious, fresh, and warming whitefish curry. It's a great meal to enjoy all year long!
What type of fish do I use for curry?
Typically, white-fleshed fish are used for curries because of their mild flavor. Another quality to look for is a firm flesh so that it doesn't fall apart in the sauce. While whitefish are more on the flaky side, they can still be used for curry if you handle them gently. To ensure the fish doesn't get overcooked or lost in the curry sauce, you can remove a small amount of the sauce to a separate pan to cook the fish. Gently fold the fish into the sauce instead of stirring it to keep it from breaking apart. Once the flesh is opaque and fully cooked you can serve it with the rest of the curry!
How to filet whitefish:
There are 2 things to note when fileting whitefish. First, there are 2 sets of bones to remove: the ribcage and the pin bones. Second, be prepared to get covered in scales! Okay one more thing, this process is much easier if you use fresh fish instead of frozen. So don't be lazy (like me) and filet your fish before you freeze them!
Assuming you've already gutted the fish before you brought them home, start by removing the head. Using a sharp filet knife, slide the knife in just behind the gills and cut through to the other side. Start by inserting the knife just above the backbone on the head end. Make an incision all the way down the backbone. This will expose the rib cage and help guide you on where to cut. Keep cutting along that incision until you completely remove one side of the fish. Repeat on the other side.
Next, lay the filet skin-side down and insert your knife between the flesh and the skin. Keep the knife almost parallel to the cutting surface. Once you've cut through an inch or so, hang onto the filet and pull the knife the rest of the way through to completely remove the skin. Feel along the flesh for the pin bones and cut on both sides of them to remove them. This will leave you with a long strip of meat and a filet. For this recipe, it all gets cut into pieces so don't worry if it's not pretty!
How to make curry sauce:
There are many different varieties of curries out there with varying levels of difficulty. You can make your own curry paste or buy a store-bought version. I like to use a store-bought curry paste but I jazz it up a bit with some aromatics like fresh ginger and shallots and finish it with a little lime juice and zest. Using the recipe on the jar works too but this adds an extra layer of flavor. Start by sautéing the aromatics in a little oil, then add in the curry paste, broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, and a little brown sugar. Stir it up and let it simmer for a bit to marry the flavors. Add in your choice of vegetables and let them cook. Add in the lime juice and zest and cook the fish in the sauce and it's good to go!
What vegetables do I use for curry?
The sky is really the limit here. There are no hard and fast rules that I'm aware of. But I do like to choose a variety of colors, textures, and flavors of vegetables to keep it interesting! Some common options are bell peppers, zucchini, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, onions, potatoes, squash, and the list goes on!
Putting it all together:
Curry is usually served with some type of rice. I usually choose sticky rice (calrose rice) because I like the flavor and texture. But other types like plain white rice or jasmine rice work great as well! Place your rice of choice in the bottom of your bowl, add in the cooked vegetables and fish, pour a little more sauce in, and top with red pepper flakes, Thai basil ribbons, and green onions. Enjoy!
Mountain Whitefish Curry
- 2 whitefish (about 14" each), cut into filets, then cut into 1" pieces
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup shallot, finely diced
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- ¼ cup red curry paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup snow peas, cut into thirds
- 1 medium zucchini, cut in half and sliced
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 6 tablespoon Thai basil, cut into ribbons
- 6 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cups cooked sticky rice
- red pepper flakes (optional, for topping)
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat.
- Add in shallots, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add in curry paste, chicken broth, coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Whisk until well-combined. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in bell pepper, snow peas, zucchini, and mushrooms. Stir to coat vegetables in sauce. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add in lime juice and zest. Stir to combine.
- Add in fish and stir to combine. Simmer covered for 3-5 minutes or until fish is starting to flake and vegetables are crisp tender.
- To each bowl, add ¾ cup rice. Divide curry sauce with vegetables and fish among bowls. Top with a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired. Top with 1 tablespoon each of Thai basil ribbons and sliced green onions.
- Note: You can remove a small amount of sauce and cook the fish in a separate pan to avoid overcooking and losing the fish in the sauce.