Indonesian fish curry

I love a good curry especially ones with coconut. This has Indonesian flavours with lemongrass, fish sauce and star anise. Despite the long list of ingredients it is essentially two processes – make the curry paste and then bung everything else in together. I used hake for this, but you can use monkfish (expensive), coley, cod, pollack (sustainable), haddock etc. Add prawns, squid, mussels etc if you want to make it a bit more posh. Good for immunity-building with all the fresh turmeric and sweet potato. I served with some left-over makhani dal and a naan I had made for an Amritsari feast! Otherwise rice is fine! Double quantities for more people.

Serves 3-4

For the curry paste:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 red chillies
  • 1 inch fresh or  3 tsp ground turmeric  (pealed and roughly chopped)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed, sliced 
  • 4 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes or tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dry-fried coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp dry-fried fennel seeds
  • ½ grated nutmeg
  • 1 thumb-length piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 thumb-length fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped (or use more ginger if you can’t find) 
  • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

Main ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 medium aubergines, cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 500g fish, cut into 4cm cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp curry paste (above mix makes the right amount)
  • 250ml fish stock (made from a stock cube)
  • 1 x 400ml tins of coconut milk
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 100g chard or pak choi, stalks finely sliced and leaves torn
  • Thai fish sauce to serve


First make the curry paste. Roughly chop all the curry paste ingredients and blitz in a food processor (I broke mine by not chopping the bits enough especially the galangal which is hard), then fry in 1 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Cook the paste for 2 mins and pour in coconut milk. Add the star anise, lime leaves and tamarind paste – simmer for 5-10 mins.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°c and roast the cubed aubergine and sweet potato on a baking tray, drizzled with a little oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 mins until both veg are soft and starting to colour.

Add all the ingredients to the curry sauce apart from the fish and stir to combine. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the fish and cook until it is flaky but not over cooked. Now add the chard/pak choi/kale/greens, and heat through for 3-4 minutes until the veg are wilted..

Serve with a dash of fish sauce and maybe some fresh coriander


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