Snapper in Choo-Chee Curry Sauce

One of my favorite Asian cookbooks is “Quick and Easy Thai” by Nancie McDermott.  She breaks down the basics of Thai food, knowledge she gained traveling through this exotic land.  She always has a story that precludes the recipe which makes it more fascinating, drawing you in closer to the author.  She allows you to taste the spicy essence of Thai food through her writings.

While I’ve tried nearly every recipe in her cookbook, there was one specifically that had eluded me.  My husband and I had the “Snapper in Choo-Chee Curry Sauce” last night and it was spicy, yet the creaminess from the coconut milk made this curry sauce one that leaves you longing for more.  I served it with a side of roasted black peppered potatoes and roasted broccoli.

This recipe turns out beautiful and vibrant.  I took some utterly amazing photos last night; however, in experimenting with my camera further, I accidentally erased them.  C’est la vie!

Snapper in Choo-Chee Curry Sauce (Choo-Chee Plah Ga-Pong)
by Nancie McDermott

1-1/4 pounds firm fish fillets, such as snapper, grouper, catfish, tilapia, mackerel, or salmon; or shrimp, peeled and deveined
About 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste, such as gaeng kua, choo-chee, panaeng, or gaeng peht (I prefer panaeng)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce (you can substitute thin soy sauce)
1 tablespoon palm sugar (you can substitute regular sugar)
4 wild lime leaves, cut crosswise into very fine threads or torn into quarters, or 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Cut the fish fillets crosswise into 2-inch pieces, and pour the flour into a deep plate.  Dip each piece of fish in the flour and shake off the excess.  (I prefer to leave the fillets whole as I think it makes for a nicer presentation.)

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a pinch of flour sizzles at once.  Gently add fish fillets and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned and crisp.  (They need not be completely cooked, as they will simmer in the sauce before serving.)  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Pour off remaining oil.

Warm ½ cup of the coconut milk in the skillet over medium heat until fragrant and creamy, about 3 minutes.  (I found that I needed to add more coconut milk as it reduced quickly.)  Add the curry paste and cook, stirring to dissolve it, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the remaining ½ cup coconut milk, water, fish sauce, palm sugar, and half the lime leaves, and bring to a gentle boil.  Add the fish and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more, spooning the curry over the fish as it cooks.  Place fillets on a deep serving platter, cover with curry sauce, sprinkle with remaining lime leaves and the cilantro, and serve hot or warm.


2 responses to this post.

  1. […] Snapper in Choo-Chee Curry Sauce ( […]


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