Chef Series: Atul Kochhar’s Goan Fish Curry

Chefs Series
By Patrick Dunne | 31st October 2023
Chef Series Atul Kochhar

The weather has officially turned cold enough to the point where you’re probably now complaining about it daily, so we’ve decided to turn up the heat for the latest edition of Chef Series. This recipe comes from culinary legend Atul Kochhar, 2-time Michelin Star winner and one of the first of two Indian Chefs to receive a star, awarded in 2001 while he was at Tamarind in London. He has featured on BBC’s Masterchef and Great British Menu, written several selling cookbooks, and opened further acclaimed restaurants in London and Dubai.

This Goan Fish Curry is flexible, spicy and delicious, and incorporates lots of pantry staples meaning there’s not much speciality buying that has to be done.

Chef’s quote from Atul: “Typical of Goan curries, this is hot and spicy with a sour tang from tamarind, and it has thin sauce. I love the heat. It’s just so beautiful. Here I’ve pan-fried the sea bass fillet for a stylish, restaurant-style presentation, but if you want to turn this into a sharing curry to put in the centre of the table, cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and gently simmer them in the gravy until the flesh flakes easily.”

Goan Fish Curry

prep time: 15 minutes

cook time: 25 minutes

serves: 4

Goan Fish Curry

Method

For the curry

  1. Assemble all the ingredients and equipment before you begin. You need a spice grinder, 2 sauté or frying pans, one of which is large and non-stick, and a baking tray.
  2. First make the spice powder. Put the dried red chillies, coriander and cumin seeds and turmeric in the spice grinder (or pestle & mortar), and grind until a fine powder forms. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over a medium-high heat in the sauté pan that isn’t non-stick. Add the spice powder and stir for 30 seconds to cook the spices. Watch closely so they do not burn. 
  4.  Add the onion paste and stir for a further 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and continue stirring to break down the large chunks.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, tamarind liquid and water. Slit the green chilli lengthways, then add it to the pan. Season with salt and bring the liquid to the boil, then lower the heat and leave to simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, while you cook the fish. You want the gravy to have a consistency like single cream.

For the fish

  1. Pat the fish fillets dry and use a thin knife to lightly score the skin side of each fillet. Season with salt on the flesh side. 
  2. Heat just enough vegetable oil to cover the surface of the non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Add the fillets, skin side down, and fry for 3–4 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp. 
  3. Gently flip the fillets over and continue frying until the flesh is opaque and cooked through. Take care not to over- cook the fillets.
  4. Adjust the seasoning of the gravy with salt, if necessary. Divide the gravy among 4 deep soup plates or bowls and top each with 2 pieces of sea bass. Garnish with the coriander sprigs.
  5. Atul’s time-saving tip Lightly scoring the skin on the fillets helps them cook quicker and crisps the skin. This isn’t just because I have my eye on the clock with these recipes, but because

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Onion Paste (page 218)
  • 2 tablespoons canned chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Tamarind Liquid (page 223), or to taste
  • 200ml water
  • 1 long thin green chilli
  • 4 large sea bass fillets, skin on
  • fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish
  • sea salt
  • 2 large dried red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

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