A recipe with flavour packed ingredients. Lemongrass, ginger, chilli, tamarind, coconut cream and curry leaves take this exotic coconut curry sauce paired with seared red snapper to the next level.
Inspired by the Sri Lankan yellow fish curry, we created our version of this comforting, hearty Far Eastern dish. Made with an array of fresh ingredients, the curry is flavoured around the oh so special fragrant curry leaves.
Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it’s worth shopping for them. Done right, this coconut curry sauce will take you travelling through Asia in no time!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
This dish is restaurant-quality made at home. The red snapper fillet is gently pan seared to bring out it’s nutty flavours, ideal for this deep, rich flavoured Sri Lankan style curry sauce.
You can even tweak the coconut curry sauce by adding your favourite seasonings and spices.
We show you how to beautifully present this dish, a plate up you can easily replicate. Follow this recipe to surprise your loved ones with a delicious and stunning meal, made in less than an hour!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE COCONUT CURRY SAUCE
Depending on where you live, some fresh ingredients might be difficult to find. That’s why we have listed below alternatives and given suggestions where possible for each ingredient:
- Lemongrass-fresh lemongrass is widely available however there are substitutes which I recently discovered. These come in the form of a paste and are sold in tubes in the herb section.
- Ginger-fresh ginger is a staple in most kitchens, if not available, use ginger paste instead.
- Red chilli-preferably fresh, can be replaced with chilli powder.
- Garlic-local fresh garlic
- Tomatoes-I used fresh tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped. You can replace them with whole peeled tin tomatoes
- Red onions-can be replaced with shallots or brown onions
- Curry leaves-have a unique flavour and give the curry it’s characteristic taste. They are widely available, sold fresh at markets and shops.
- Coriander roots-since we are using coriander leaves as a garnish, try to buy coriander with the roots attached.
- Spices-turmeric makes an important spice for the curry, fresh or in form of a powder, both are fine. We used a mild curry spice blend for the coconut curry sauce.
- Coconut cream– use a creamy, thick coconut cream for the curry.
- Tamarind paste-gives the curry a sweet-sour flavour. Tamarind comes mostly in form of paste sold in jars.
- Lime-to finish the curry I added a splash of lime in the end.
Additionally, we made a garnish in form of a fresh salad. We used coriander and dill leaves, snow peas, sugar snaps, red chilli and baby onions for this salad. If you prefer other vegetables, you can add carrots, celery or fennel instead.
HOW TO MAKE COCONUT CURRY SAUCE
Follow this step by step photo tutorial and read the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and method.
Prepare all the ingredients as per picture above and start heating up a wide pot on medium heat.
Sear the sliced onions for about two minutes and add the chopped lemongrass, garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander root.
Cook all for 2-3 more minutes, stirring often. Now add the tomatoes and curry leaves.
Cook for 2-3 minutes more and add the turmeric, curry powder and salt. Next goes in the coconut cream and water, bring to a boil on high heat.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Lastly add the tamarind and lime juice and simmer for 2 more minutes.
Mix the curry and strain through a fine sieve.
AS A TIP: When cooking the sauce, you can use vegetable or chicken stock instead of water for extra flavour. Make note, you can prepare the curry sauce in advance and heat up when required.
SEARING THE FISH FILLETS
I calculated 150 grams (5.2 ounces) fish fillet per portion. Further I cut each fillet in half for presentation purposes. Alternatively you could serve the curry sauce with a whole fish fillet or even a whole cooked fish.
I then cooked the fish skin side down in a hot pan over high heat. After 5 minutes I reduced the heat to low and turned the fish around. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, you might need to leave it longer.
I usually check the doneness of the fish, by sticking a skewer through the thickest part. If the flesh feels soft, the fish is done. If there is resistance, the fish needs longer.
AS A TIP: Cook the fish in a non-stick or cast iron pan for a nice searing. Alternately you could remove the skin of the fish.
PREPARING THE GARNISH
For the garnish I used bright vegetables like snow peas, baby onions and sugar snaps. I simply cut the snow peas and baby onions in fine slices and put them in ice cold water.
Next, I added blanched (means cooking a vegetable in boiling water and refreshing it in cold water) sugar snaps, sliced red chilli, coriander and dill leaves.
The purpose of leaving vegetables and herbs in ice cold water, is to make them crisp and bright.
Further, I fried a handful of curry leaves in hot oil and used them as a garnish with the salad together.
AS A TIP: Don’t throw the frying oil from the curry leaves! Store it in an air tight container and use it for cooking vegetables, lentils, soups, curries, basically anything!. Alternatively, you can also brush the oil over flatbread, or rub it over meat and fish before cooking.
PLATING UP THE RED SNAPPER CURRY
We wanted to give our dish a modern look hence opted for a non traditional way of serving. Even so you could present the dish as a curry, I recommend using a deep main course plate instead.
Cover the bottom of the plate with a ladle full of the coconut curry sauce. Drizzle some coconut cream with a spoon.
Arrange the salad on top of the fish fillets and using a turner spatula, gently place two fillets, into each bowl.
Garnish with fried curry leaves and serve with steamed rice and some greens on the side.
AS A TIP: Place extra curry sauce on the table, as from experience, people always ask for more😉
WHAT TO SERVE THE FISH CURRY DISH WITH
I served the seared red snapper with coconut curry sauce simply with rice but you can make it more exciting than that! Fish curry also goes well with flat breads like, roti or with homemade naan bread.
When we have guests over, I usually serve an array of side dishes like cauliflower or baked sweet potatoes but since it was just us for lunch that day, we kept it simple!
Can the curry be made vegan?
The curry is vegan without the fish. Add tofu or paneer or any vegetables of your liking and you have a vegan meal.
How long can you store the coconut curry sauce in the fridge?
You can refrigerate the curry sauce for up to three days. If you make a big batch you can freeze the curry for up to 3 months.
Is the coconut curry sauce spicy?
No, if you follow the recipe the curry is mild. However you can add more chilli to the curry or use bird eyes chilli if you want more heat.
Which fish can I use instead of red snapper?
Use any type of fresh fish if you cannot find red snapper. Fillets of salmon, barramundi, kingfish, grouper or trout all work well. The curry sauce is great for seafood too, think mussels, scallops and prawns.
Can I use meat instead of fish?
Yes you can. Chicken, beef and lamb all work well with the curry sauce.
If you are looking to try something a little different then our red snapper with coconut curry sauce is the way to go! Transform your next fish curry into a special meal and wow your family with this modern interpretation of a Sri Lankan curry.
When you are expecting guests over, prepare the curry the day before. Like any curry, it is so much more delicious when eaten the next day!
If you want to try a different fish recipe make this pan fried barramundi with seaweed sauce.
We are always excited to read reviews so do let us know if you make this dish. Your comments on the post and star ratings help us understand what worked and what didn’t in a recipe😉
Until then Cheers! And Happy cooking!
Seared Red Snapper with Coconut Curry Sauce
- wide pot
- medium size non stick pan
- fine sieve
for the curry sauce
- 3 stalks lemongrass sliced
- 1 medium red onion peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 red chilli chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped coriander roots
- 3 medium tomatoes de-seeded and chopped
- 20 fresh curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- 600 milliliters coconut cream
- 400 milliliters water
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- ½ lime
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- salt to taste
for the fish
- 600 grams red snapper fillet skin on, portioned into 8 small fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt to taste
for the garnish
- 65 grams snow peas cleaned and sliced
- 50 grams sugar snaps cleaned and blanched
- 1 red chilli de-seeded and finely sliced
- 1 baby onion peeled and finely sliced
- ¼ bunch coriander leaves leaves picked
- ¼ bunch dill leaves picked
- 16 curry leaves
- 110 milliliters vegetable oil
- sea salt to taste
for the curry sauce
- Heat the pot with oil on high heat and add the sliced onions.
- Sear the onions for about two minutes and add chopped lemongrass, garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander root.
- Cook everything for 2-3 more minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes and curry leaves next. Cook for 2-3 more minutes and then add the turmeric, curry powder and salt.
- Now, add coconut cream and water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Lastly add the tamarind and lime juice and simmer for 2 more minutes. Mix the curry in a kitchen blender and strain through a fine sieve.
for the fish
- Season the fish with salt from all sides. Cook the fish with the skin side down in a hot pan over high heat with olive oil. After 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low and turn the fish around.
- Depending on the thickness of the fillet, you might need to leave it longer. Check if the fish is cooked by sticking a skewer through the thickest part. If the flesh feels soft, the fish is done If there is resistance, the fish needs longer.
for the garnish
- Salad - Add all the vegetables and herbs in a bowl with ice cold water. Leave for 5 to 10 minutes and place on a sieve or colander. Let the water drain and pat dry with a towel.
- Fried Curry leaves - Heat the oil on high heat and fry the curry leaves for 10 seconds. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and place on a kitchen paper towel
- Assembling - Garnish the fish fillet with the vegetable herb salad and fried curry leaves. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the top.
Thank you !
Shilpi & Etienne
Thanks and very easy to make plus its delicious!
Delicious recipe. Very aromatic and flavoursome.
The only issue I had is that I jumped directly to the menu and the list of ingredients did not contain the onions. Had me scratching my head for a bit when I read the instructions and it said fry the onions.
My wife does not really like fish, however she was gulping this down with delight. A great recipe, I will be cooking this one again. thank you so much for sharing it!!
Shilpi & Etienne
Hi Ray! Thanks for giving this recipe a go! Glad you and your wife enjoyed it!
Sorry about missing out on the onion in the ingredient list, we have now updated the recipe thanks to you!
Its one of our favourite recipes as we love the flavours too!
Works beautifully with seafood but if you want a change try it with chicken or even just vegetables and chickpeas.