Coconut-lime fish curry

coconut-lime fish curry

Eating fish is tough. Not in a flavor sense — I could likely eat it every day (though we all know what happens when you get what you wish for in that department). But financially, it’s difficult to get enough into our diet. Fish is one of those things where you get what you pay for — I’m no longer a fan of my old-standby bargain tilapia (for reasons such as these), and I’d like to buy wild-caught. For a while I thought I’d found a solution by purchasing mostly at Trader Joe’s, but then read this, and have since avoided that supply (insert mantra here about something seeming too good to be true, and therefore likely being so).

So instead, I wait for big sales at Whole Foods (some friends like Costco fish, but we aren’t members) and buy when the price is right. While we occasionally get the rare treat of bright-red wild-caught salmon, I most often buy cheaper cuts like cod (used in our fish sticks) or other inexpensive whitefish.

I like to use mild white fish in dishes with amp’d flavor — cod especially needs help beyond the simple lemon-dill roasting that lets a good piece of salmon shine. A few weeks ago I had purchased cod on sale, and brought it home, only to realize I just wasn’t in the mood for fish sticks. The thought came to me that it would likely hold up well in a curry, and the strong spices would lend a hand to its inherent blandness. Using other curry dishes as a base, with the added color and flavor of canned tomatoes, I believe we’ve found a way to get more fish on our dinner plates without breaking the bank.

As a bonus, my kids (ahem… 2 out of 3) actually love it. And Tim says it should go under the “Slap Yo Mama” section of my eternally non-existent cookbook. Taken as a compliment, and not as a passive-aggressive directive to my children, we’ve labeled this curry a keeper.


Recipe: Coconut-lime Fish Curry (dairy-free, grain-free)

: serves 3-4

If you don’t have unsweetened coconut cream, omit it and the water, and replace with 3/4 cup canned unsweetened full-fat coconut milk. Make sure your curry powder is fresh — the fragrance should fill your head the minute you open the container — a stale curry powder will leave this dish flat.


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (see note)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fish, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained & rinsed
  • 3/4 pound fresh mild white fish, such as cod or sole, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, to garnish
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice


  1. In a large saucepan, cook the onion in coconut oil over medium heat until translucent (do not brown), about five minutes.
  2. Add the garlic & ginger, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring, another minute.
  4. Add the coconut cream, water, stock, and tomatoes to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fish to the pan, cover, and continue cooking another 10 minutes, or until fish is opaque.
  6. Stir in 2 Tbsp lime juice. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately over hot basmati rice.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.



This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS, and Seasonal Eats at Delectable Musings.


17 thoughts on “Coconut-lime fish curry

    1. That sounds amazing! I have bookmarked it, and will be trying it the next time I get my hands on good smoked fish.
      I can get smoked trout at our local meat shop — wonder if that would be comparable? Have no memory of seeing smoked haddock around here…

  1. Pacific halibut is in season for me and my family is crazy about these kind of Thai inspired flavors. I can’t wait to give this a try. I would love for you to link up this recipe on my Seasonal Eats May roundup found here, which highlights posts about using seasonal ingredients in great recipes.

  2. Firstly, I think you read too much. 🙂
    Secondly, I could eat fish most days of the week.
    Third, I made you fish sticks again on Monday and my children and husband rose up and called me blessed.
    Fourth, since you can’t help yourself and you do read about this stuff, what is your take on soy? I have cut back on soy with W. Where he does have it, I try to make sure it’s organic, not genetically modified. I mean, I am pretty sure everything causes cancer and we are all going to die – but I would like to prevent my poor little son from sprouting a third eye or something worse before 2nd grade.

    1. I know, I know. You and my husband share the same opinion ; )
      So soy is tough. In short, I do think it’s best to eat it in very limited amounts — mostly b/c of the GMO issue, but also because soy is an estrogen mimicker, so it can mess with hormones. When we do soy, we try to make sure it is fermented (so soy sauce, or tempeh) — though right now soy is one of the many things on my outlawed list, so we’re not really doing any (we used to eat tons of tofu, and my kids still love it, so I occasionally make it for them, and I just pass the plate).

      1. Well, I read that soy is not a steroid so your body doesn’t really metabolize it like it would estrogen, and to mostly be concerned about the GMO. Anyway, I’m not a science person so I can’t really even discuss it that much. It’s just hard to know what to do when W still can’t have milk. I had been alternating between Rice and Soy milks. I don’t know why that stopped?

        OK, so I made your fish sticks, but I pan fried them instead of doing the oven because I have to use panko. Well, I don’t have to, but I like it, so I have to. And then, I just froze what we didn’t eat. Got them out today for lunch and the kids were so, so happy. I really feel like I owe you for the flax seed suggestion. It makes all the difference with the batter!

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