Chinatown fish markets are brilliant. They are not places where you can be a sissy about touching fish or assorted slimy things. Stand shoulder to shoulder (or maybe shoulder to head) with little old ladies as they stick their hands into tubs full of live eels as you try not to faint. Then, you pull up your socks and grab a steak or assorted viscera, whatever strikes your fancy and you’re on your way.
Today I tried the fresh grouper. The Grouper fish, a lovely, delicate whitefish has a few bones, but they’re easy enough to deal with. It’s easy enough to cook – you can do a pretty fantastic seared grouper with a basic lemon zest/thyme/salt/pepper dressing and it looks impressive (provided you care enough to crisp up the skin).
Since mom is a-visiting and she’s been kind enough to feed mah belleh during the week, it’s only fair that I <strike>experiment on</strike> cook for her on the weekends. Figured I’d do a simple little coconut fish curry and on a whim, threw in some Japenese eggplant. Here’s how.
- About 1 lb of grouper (or any other) fish – cut into 2 inch chunks
- Half a can of regular coconut milk (the ‘lite’ stuff is for sissies)
- About half a good-sized Japanese eggplant – sliced evenly
- One medium sized onion sliced thin (I like vidalias, but to each their own)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ginger/garlic paste (or 1/4 tsp of each, chopped fine)
- 4-5 curry leaves (I like to chiffonade ’em, but you can chuck them in whole too. Eat them though, they’re chock full of good vitaminey things)
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp Red chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it – this dish doesn’t need to burn a hole in your esophagus though)
- 1/4 tsp Cumin powder
- 1/5 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp Tumeric powder
- 1/4 tsp Coriander powder
- A smidgen of Garam Masala – optional
- Sputter the mustard seeds in the heated olive oil.
- Soften the onions with the ginger/garlic paste – until the onions start to get some color.
- Add the coconut milk, all the spices and the curry leaves. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the eggplant slices, simmer another 5-7 minutes or until they’re soft. You can half-cover the pot for this step – it’ll speed up the softening. Good idea for when you have a hungry mother poking you in the small of your back.
- Add the fish chunks, cook for 5-7 minutes, until JUST cooked. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR FISH YOU BUMS.
- Serve up with steamed Basmati rice.