Hard-fried fish in red curry

When we filmed this we just happened to have some very large John Dory in the restaurant, which we bought cheaply from a Padstow fisherman who was keen to exchange them for a few £5 notes so that he could get down to the pub. They made wonderful steaks but this dish is also really good for cheaper fish such as farmed salmon or sea bass as there’s so much flavour in the sauce. 

Ingredients for fried fish curry

Serves 4

- 2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra
for deep-frying
- 3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 200ml coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon light muscovado sugar
- 4 x 225g John Dory steaks (you can also use salmon or sea bass fillets instead)
- Juice of ½ lime
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- To serve, jasmine rice

For the curry paste
- 5 large red finger chillies, roughly chopped
- 2.5cm fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, the rest roughly chopped
- 6 - 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 shallots, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp blachan (shrimp paste)
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp tumeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil

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How to make fried fish with red curry sauce

1) To make the curry paste, put everything into a food processor and blend to a smooth paste.

2) Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large deep frying pan. Add the red curry paste and fry for about 2 minutes, until the paste starts to separate from the oil. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, until thickened.

3) Meanwhile, heat some oil for deep-frying to 190ºC.  Deep-fry the fish fillets 2 at a time, for 2 minutes until crisp, golden and cooked through. Lift on to a tray lined with kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.

4) Once the excess oil has drained off the fish, place the steaks on to 4 warmed plates.  Stir the lime juice into the sauce with some seasoning to taste, spoon it over the fish and serve with some steamed rice.

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