Spring halibut curry with garlic gai lan & asparagus

May 2, 2016 at 2:14 pm (Asian, Recipes)

One of the perks of an Alaskan spring (rounding out the top three are sunlight and above-zero temperatures) is the abundance of fresh fish.  Lot of salmon, of course, but it’s halibut that we are making sure to get our fill of before winter comes around again.  A firm, white-fleshed fish with a sweet, un-fishy flavour, it has quickly become one of our favorites and the target of many a fishing trip planned for the summer.

The low fat content of halibut makes it easy to overcook, so we’re gently poaching the fish fillets in a fragrant, coconut curry broth to keep it moist.  Served with baby gailan and asparagus, simply stir-fried with garlic, what better way to make use of spring produce?

When it comes to curry, of course it would be great to be able to make your own curry paste from scratch.  But given most of us are time-poor, who really wants to be messing around with fresh turmeric, soaking tamarind or roasting shrimp paste.  For convenience, we generally find store-bought paste to be fine as a base, and it’s fairly easy to amp up up the flavor with fresh ginger, coriander, garlic, shallots, chili…..anything fresh you have on hand to add some brightness.

Halibut Curry

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 fillets of halibut, ~1lb (450g) total
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and julienned
  • 3tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, leaves picked  and reserved, stalks roughly chopped
  • 4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 green chili, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3tbsp coconut oil
  • 2tbsp fish sauce
  • 2tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 bunch baby gai lan, washed, stalks separated and halved
  • 8 stalks asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped into 2-in lengths
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (not crushed, you want some chunks)
  • 2tbsp olive oil (peanut oil, if you have it)

Halibut Curry - Ingredients


  1. Remove the skin from the halibut, wash, pat dry and set aside.
  2. Place 1 clove garlic, cilantro stalks, shallots, turmeric and chili into a small food processor.  Process until finely chopped, almost paste-like.
  3. Heat 3tbsp coconut oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat, add the curry paste and garlic/shallot mixture and fry until fragrant (~3mins).  Add half a cup of water (the mixture will spit), the fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and coconut milk.  Adjust the seasoning to taste as the amounts required will depend on the paste you are using.
  4. Reduce the heat to bring the broth to a simmer, then add the red pepper and nestle the fish fillets into the broth (it will not completely cover the fish).  Cover and poach the fish for ~5mins, before flipping over carefully and cooking for a further 3-4 mins or until done.  Gently test with a fork to check for done-ness; the flesh should just flake apart when a fork is inserted into the middle of the fillet.
  5. While the fish is cooking, heat 2tbsp oil in a flat frypan over medium-high heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the finely chopped garlic and fry for ~20 seconds before adding the gai lan and asparagus to the pan.  Stir-fry for ~5-6 minutes, spreading the vegetables out over the pan to develop some color, until just tender.  The moisture on the washed leaves should generate sufficient steam to help the cooking process along; add a few drops of water if it dries out too quickly, but not too much or the vegetables will stew.
  6. Divide the fish, red pepper and broth between 2 bowls and serve topped with reserved cilantro leaves and the stir-fried gailan/asparagus.





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