Adam Liaw’s Barramundi Curry with Tomato Coconut

Serves: 4

I’ve previously written about what a big fan I am of Adam Liaw.

Brilliant cook. Funniest Twitter account. Genuinely lovely guy.

And so there I am during Sydney’s Covid lockdown; in-line in a Chinese grocer and who walks up behind me, but Adam Liaw.

So I introduce myself and tell him what a fan I am of his; that I have purchased several of his latest book for friends.

He politely thanks me.

Clutching snake beans, I explain that I accidentally purchased garlic chives the day before and ho ho ho, what an easy mistake that is right?

And he gives me that look: no it isn’t moron. Only you could make that mistake.

Anyway, still a fan and yes, it was a moron mistake.

In keeping with all of Adam Liaw’s recipes, this one is a keeper. A total keeper.

A wonderful coming together of Malaysian and Indian flavours as he puts it.

We had this mid-week as a date night and didn’t we have a great evening! This dish and a bottle of cold white were big contributors.

Ingredients

1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon quill
10 curry leaves
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large green chillies, sliced
2 coriander plants, leaves picked, stalks and roots roughly chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tamarind puree
400ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
10 okra, trimmed (optional and omitted)
750gm skinless barramundi fillets

Method

  1. Heat a large frypan or saucepan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves, and stir for 10 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, chillies, plus the coriander stalks and roots and stir well.
  2. Cook for about 4 minutes until the mix is fragrant but the onion is not yet coloured, then add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well, then add the tomatoes, tamarind, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar plus a splash of water* and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the okra (if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the barramundi and simmer until cooked through: about 6 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, then scatter with the coriander leaves and serve.

*Nat and I did a virtual cooking class with Neil Perry during Sydney’s lockdown and the most prominent comment from the 750 or so Instagram participants was “slow down”. And it wasn’t that we did not have the ingredients ready.

The issue was cooking time.

Neil’s induction was putting our gas hobs to shame.

And it is why I assume so many chefs ask for a cup of water to be added to a dish and then reduced in 10 minutes. Because they can… and we can’t.

I’m subscribed to the view that you add water as you go rather than reducing large quantities of it. Because it always takes multiples of what you are told it should take time wise. And with respect to Adam, adding a cup of water at this stage meant another 15 minutes frantically trying to bring this back over a very high heat.

Kay Chun’s Coconut-Miso Salmon Curry

Serves: 4

This curry I found on NYT’s Cooking had 7k+ 5-star reviews so… it had to be done.

Add one more 5-star.

What a mild, moorish dinner.

The caremalised miso with the coconut milk, the lime and then the fresh herbs. Wow.

I used a premium coconut milk and the difference was obvious. Don’t cut this corner.

And it’s so simple. Monday-night home date-night sort of stuff.

You could add fresh chilli at the end, though whatever you do, get that lime juice in and a solid handful of those herbs.

Note: I used two cups of water and not three and I would do it again.

Ingredients

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, halved and sliced 5cm thick
1 10cm piece fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 c white miso
1/2 c coconut milk
750g salmon, cut into large pieces
5c baby spinach
1 tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
Steamed jasmine rice for serving
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1/4 c chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and season. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the miso and cook, stirring frequently, until the miso is lightly caramelised: about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the coconut and 3 cups of boiling water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced slightly. Lower the heat and add the salmon and simmer gently until just cooked through. Turn off the hear and stir in the spinach and lime juice until the spinach is wilted.
  3. Serve with rice, topped with the fresh herbs and lime wedges for squeezing.

Lara Dunson’s Burmese Coconut Rice

Serves: 4

Lara Dunston is a Cambodian food and travel writer: she also makes a solid coconut rice, something Nat whipped up to accompany a great Burmese Chicken Curry we had last weekend.

Nothing says you’ve made an effort than a rice that has colour, or additional elements, or both.

This is one such rice, perfect for any Southern Asian curry.

Ingredients

3 c jasmine rice
1 c coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves

Method

  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear then transfer to the rice cooker. (We cooked in the microwave).
  2. Pour coconut milk into the rice cooker and then water until it reaches the 3 cup measure.
  3. Add vegetable oil, shallots, salt, spices and bay leaves and combine well.
  4. Cook until the rice is cooked through and then rest for 10 minutes.

Meen Molee (Fish curry cooked in coconut)

Meen Molee (Fish curry cooked in coconut)

Serves: 2 – 3

I’ve done a few Molee and this recipe is a wonderful, rustic and rather simple fish version.

It isn’t as complex or subtle as some I have done, though it is the simplicity factor that earns the write-up; and it tastes just awesome too.

Weekday, Saturday lunch, this is a great number.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves
3 green chillies
5cm piece of ginger, peeled
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
6 curry leaves
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp salt
200ml coconut milk
160ml boiling water
500gm firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Basmati rice and coriander to serve

Method

  1. Place the garlic, chillies and ginger in a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan to a medium-heat and fry the onion with the curry leaves for 4 minutes until softening. Stir in the garlic, chilli and ginger mixture together with the turmeric and salt. Fry for 2 minutes and then add half the coconut milk and the boiling water.
  3. Simmer for 2 minutes and add the fish; gently simmer for 5 – 6 minutes. Add half the tomato and remaining coconut milk and simmer for another 3 – 4 minutes.
  4. Garnish with the remaining tomato and serve on basmati rice with plenty of coriander.

Egg Noodles with Rich Chicken Curry Sauce (Khao Soi)

Serves: 2 – 3 generous servings

This Burmese dish might seem unusual – curry and noodles – though could there be a better combination?

It isn’t a complex dish – just putting it out there – though that is its thing.

It is super easy to prepare, looks great, tastes great and the more crazy you go with the coriander, lime juice, peanuts, snow pea sprouts, fried shallots, spring onions…

You get the point.

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 – 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste (2 is pretty darn hot)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup chicken stock
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces (we used 2 chicken breasts)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 ½ tsp sugar
250gm fresh or dried egg noodles

Garnishes

Thinly sliced shallots, raw or fried
Coriander
Roasted chopped peanuts
Lime wedges
Chopped spring onions
Dried chilies
Fried egg noodles

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and chopped shallot and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and curry powder and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, chicken thighs, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir everything together, scraping up any curry paste that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions, timing it so that the noodles will be cooked when the curry is done simmering.
  5. Drain and divide between two bowls. Top with curry and the garnishes of your choice.

Prawn Molee

 

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a beautiful curry.

Beautifully delicate and mild, so much so, you could be eating a contemporary French starter.

The lightness of it of course allows the prawns to sing rather than smothering them as merely a protein as so many curries do.

It is a Rick Stein number and the recipe from Kerala.

With some boiled basmati rice – and coriander – this will make your night.

Wow.

Ingredients

2 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
6 cloves
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5cm ginger, finely shredded
2 green chillis, slit lengthways, deseeded
1 tsp salt
Small handful fresh curry leaves
Small pinch turmeric
400ml coconut milk
1 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
500gm large tail-on raw prawns
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced for garnish
Boiled basmati rice to serve
Coriander leaves to serve (us, not Rick)

Method

  1. Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pepper, cardamoms and cloves and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chillies, salt and curry leaves and fry for 1 minute.
  2. Add the turmeric, coconut milk and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced slightly. Add the prawns and simmer for a further 4 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Scatter the tomatoes on top, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set aside for 4 minutes.

Fish (or Prawn) Polkiri Thiyal

Serves: 4

I had this very skillfully cooked for me last night by master curry chef Rob Ashes… and it was as fantastic as it was unique.

Recently returned from Sri Lanka and with a pretty seriously traditional looking cookbook in hand, this recipe is Sinhalese cuisine which I suspected meant ‘tasty tasty’ but instead effectively means the cuisine you eat if you are not Tamil.

I’m not sure what Rob did for the rampe (pandanus leaf) except to leave it out; according to Google, it should be available from Indian food stores or flip a coin and either leave it out or try anything from coriander to lime leaf to rose water.

Enjoy this curry which Rob adapted and I have further adapted. It is definitely a keeper!

Ingredients

500gm firm white fish, 3cm cubes (or prawns, shelled)
1 onion, chopped
Punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green chillis, thinly sliced
Cinnamon stick
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp butter
3cm rampe (pandanus leaf)
1 tsp lime juice
½ c coconut milk
10 curry leaves
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
A few grinds of pepper
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat the butter in a large pan and saute the onions, curry leaves, cinnamon and rampe.
  2. Mix in the garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt. Add 2 tablespoons of water and then place the fish (or prawns) in the pan. Coat with the mixture, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil.
  3. Turn the heat down and cook for 5 minutes remembering that you want the sauce to be thick. Add the pepper, green chillis, tomatoes and lime. Cook for another five minutes and serve.

Skinny Chicken Laksa

Serves: 2

I avoid Laksa at lunchtime. I avoid cooking it for dinner.

It tastes awesome, though it is notoriously fatty. I’m probably kidding myself given half the dinners I make, though Laksa has always been a red light for me.

This recipe by Jill Dupleix – which I have adjusted slightly – is, at least on face value, much healthier than the 400ml can of coconut cream variety I am used to, and tastes just awesome. The meat isn’t fried, the laksa paste isn’t fried off in oil.

(That means you can eat more I assume!)

On my deathbed I’ll smash down pork crackling and proper Laksa, though until then…

Serves 4

150gm vermicelli noodles
2 c (500ml) chicken stock
2tbs laksa paste
2 chicken breasts cut into 3cm strips
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tsp caster sugar
250ml can reduced fat coconut milk (OK, original recipe was 100ml though can was 250ml)
200 gm green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 cup bean sprouts (add as much as you want)
2 cup coriander sprigs (again, add as much as you want)
2 cup mint leaves (ditto)
Fried Asian shallots to serve (half handful per serve)

Method

  1. Soak the noodled in warm water for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, whisk in the laksa paste.
  3. Add the chicken, tomato, sugar and ½ teaspoon of sea salt and simmer for 10 minutes until chicken cooked through.
  4. Add the coconut milk and beans and simmer for 5 minutes until beans cooked through.
  5. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls and soon over the chicken and the laksa broth.
  6. Top with bean sprouts and scatter with coriander, mint and dried Asian shallots.