Versatile Curry Gravy with Fried Fish (or what ever you heart!)

by on August 15, 2009

curry-gravy-recipe

I can’t imagine a life without curry. Thinking about it brings a void and desperate plea to my palate, “Noooooo!”  The warm, fragrant combination of spices topped over warm rice, tofu, veggies,  fish or meats is indispensable for me. Long ago, I swore to not live a bland life. I shall not live curry-less.

As versatile as it is delicious, my curry gravy is great accompaniment to almost any dish that needs a quick burst of flavor. Simple olive or grape seed oil, garlic and shallots can quickly bring life and flavor to most things I eat, but sometimes a dash of curry perks up the flavor scale a couple of tasty notches.

I used to call this a curry sauce, but when it’s thickened  a bit  with  the cornstarch slurry, it becomes a thicker, clingy gravy  (borrowing the term more from the old fashioned definition of gravy, rather than the modern meat juice, flour, & milk concept of gravy) that makes dinner more exciting.

The bright, grassy and aromatic depth of fresh lemongrass is what makes this curry gravy exceptional. I’m a lover of lemongrass both in the kitchen and in the garden, plus pulling a fresh stalk of thick and plump lemongrass thrills me as a gardener (almost anyone can grow lemongrass). It’s like a noxious weed, and it nice that you can cull the weeds and still cook with it too.

curry-gravy-sauce recipe

Tossing the fresh lemongrass in the gravy and letting it simmer and slowly break apart tells me that I’ve just inundated enormous flavor and pizazz into my meal. Of course, there’s garlic and fresh chilies to complete the balance and flair of this gravy. After a few minutes on the stove, it’s a completely versatile gravy that is a quick flavor fix to any base of protein or veggies.

One of my favorites is tossing it over hot fried fish.  My mother would have a ready made batch of curry gravy in the fridge for those nights when Dad was working late. She’d buy a the freshest whole fish she could get her hands on, make ME scale the darn thing (I had better things to do when I was 12 years old) and then make me lay out more newspaper for her to gut the fish.

The process always seemed like such a waste of time. Living out my Junior High years imprisoned in the home kitchen was worse than a life sentence in prison. All I wanted as kid was to finish my homework and to play Atari’s Frogger, Pac Man and my all time favorite, Pit Fall! But my mom’s desire to have gravy and fried fish ruined me, at least that’s what I felt as a child. I’d smell like fish guts and would have fish scales clinging to my arm and flecked in my hair while the rest of my young siblings joyfully played my round of Pac Man. Gobble, gobble, dots, dots….

I was a bitter child, full of resentment because I lost out on my turn on video games due to fried fish and curry. Now…  I’m a damn thankful adult (bigger kid).  The scents and tastes of the recipe intoxicate my mind and memories more than the video games, so now I’d rather spend time in the kitchen than stagnate in front of the tv.

Forever Curry Lover,

-diane

curry-gravy sauce recipe

Fried Fish with Curry Gravy Recipe

Yield: Serves 2-4

Total Time: 20 Minutes

This versatile gravy can be topped on what ever your heart desires. Steamed vegetables, rice and meats are extra special when they're bathed in this flavorful sauce. I prefer fried fish because it's the way that my mother made it. That's how I know and love it best.

If you don't have fresh lemongrass, dried lemongrass will work as well. And if all else fails and no lemongrass is to be found, try adding some star anise (about two) for extra depth.

Ingredients:

For cornstarch slurry:

  • 2 teaspoons Corn Starch
  • 2 Tablespoons Water

For Curry Gravy:

  • 2 cups water, chicken or vegetable stock. (when using chicken or vegetable stock, use only half of the fish sauce/soy sauce, or to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 4 large cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 large Shallots, minced (optional)
  • 1 small Thai Chili (customize to your heat level), minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Curry Powder
  • 2- 2" stalks of fresh Lemongrass (cut into 2-3" lengths, then smashed w/ flat of the knife)
  • 3 teaspoons of Fish Sauce (or use soy sauce for vegetarians)  If you're not a vegetarian, please try the fish sauce. It'll add a whole new depth of flavor to the gravy.

Fried Fish Ingredients

  • about 2 pounds Fish Fillets or Whole Fish, cleaned and gutted
  • about 1 cup of Vegetable Oil, or enough to fry fish
  • 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour or Rice Flour

Directions:

For Curry Gravy:

  1. Prepare cornstarch slurry by adding cornstarch and water in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. In saucepan, heat vegetable oil over med. heat, then add garlic and shallots. Fry till fragrant and lightly brown. Do not let burn.
  3. Add chilies and smashed lemongrass stalks. Cook for about 2 minutes to coat the lemongrass with garlic and shallots.
  4. Add water, curry powder and fish sauce (or soy sauce).
  5. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until lemongrass begins to soften and release it's fragrant oils.
  6. Stir cornstarch slurry one last time to combine well, then add to hot gravy. Immediately stir to combine well. The sauce will begin to thicken.
  7. Turn off heat. Pour over fish, vegetables or meats.

Fried Fish Directions

  1. On plate, sprinkle fish with flour. Evenly coat fish with layer of flour. For Gluten free, use rice flour.
  2. In frying pan, heat oil. When oil is hot, gently place fish in oil. Fry a few minutes on both sides or until cooked. Note: do not try to flip fish until it has created a nice crust. Early flipping will cause the fish to break apart and crumble
  3. Plate fried fish and pour curry gravy over it.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mélanie August 16, 2009 at 1:30 am

I can relate to that! As a child, I hated when my mother asked me to pick the currants and raspberries in the garden. It took hours (whe had a lot), and I would much rather have played with my brother… But now I even come from Paris for the picking day, and I wish we had more… :)

I have a question about lemongrass : you say it’s very easy to grow, so I’m interested! Especially because you won’t find it everywhere in Paris. So do you think I can grow it in a large pot on my balcony? Does it need a lot of sun?
Thanks a lot

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2 Cate August 16, 2009 at 1:38 am

I wish I’d learned how to deal with whole fish at an early age…they still intimidate me! I will probably stick with putting the sauce over more basic things like tofu and vegetables, but I can’t wait to try it!

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3 Manggy August 16, 2009 at 9:38 am

You see now, your mum knew exactly what she was doing ;) And thanks to the butterfly effect, we are no audience to this beautiful fried (whole– thanks–) fish with curry gravy! It’s funny how life works out sometimes ;)

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4 Miakoda August 17, 2009 at 4:23 am

Life without curry or gravy……it’s, it’s unthinkable! I have my own set of standard curry recipes, but I’ve never thought of making a batch and refigerating them, like your mom. That’s quite useful…I wonder how long its good to keep in the fridge?

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5 noelle (simmer down!) August 17, 2009 at 6:39 am

I was also wondering about growing lemongrass… does it require a particularly warm climate? (I live in MI). Also, do you grow it from seed?

Anyway, thanks for the basic sauce recipe. It’s great to have versatile recipes like that in one’s repertoire!

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6 White on Rice Couple August 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

Melanie & Noelle – Yes, lemongrass is really easy to grow once it has a good root starter. You can purchase lemongrass seeds on the internet or better yet, buy a lemongrass starter from a nursery. But if lemongrass seeds are the only option, those will work fine too.
If you can get a good lemongrass stalk from an asian grocery store, you can start with that easily. Just find about 3 stalks with a big bulb and some evidence of root base. Sometimes the stalks will be cut too high and some of the base of the bulb will be sliced. If there is one that has part of the root on it, then you’ve got your plant.
Just stick it in the ground or well drained pot (pot is better option because it grows like a week) and water regularly. Lemongrass does need full sun and warmer climates to thrive.
I’ve always lived in warmer climates and my lemongrass is lush and uncontrollable. But for colder climates, I’m assuming that it would have a harder time.

If anyone has any experience on growing lemongrass in colder climates, please comment below and share!

thanks!
diane

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7 matt August 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm

OH YES! Love, love love curry. Could do with a bowl of this right now. Fantastic photos guys, and just bloody perfect fried whole fish.

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8 Hana August 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I have been looking for new fish recipes to try. And I prefer using whole fish so this is great!

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9 foodwoolf August 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm

The photos of those fish make me want to jump through my computer screen and grab the fish from the pan! How beautiful.

Isn’t it funny how some of the things our parents made us do (against our will) when we were young, are now things we do out of pure pleasure. I hate to admit this, but I’m glad your mom held you hostage in that kitchen. Look at all the great recipes and cooking skills you earned at the end of all that. I can’t wait to try out this recipe.

xoxox

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10 Big boys Oven August 19, 2009 at 4:44 am

oh my my! that reminds me of feeding my fishes! lol!

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11 Rachael August 19, 2009 at 4:54 am

This looks SO delicious! Love the presentation and photos. Lovely!

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12 Lori Lynn August 23, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Oh this sounds absolutely up my alley. Thanks for the recipe. I’m making a lot more fish these day, and this is perfect.

Haha, my sister was a PacMan champion!
LL

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13 Patti Londre November 24, 2009 at 9:35 am

Hooray, you solved my question as to where to plant my potted lemongrass. And now I have your incredible gravy recipe to try, too. Full sun here in LA, not hard to find, even during our winters. Your photos are inspiring and romantic. Keep up the beautiful work.

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14 Yoko June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm

yum..you make me crave fried fish :)

another thing I like to do with curry (Japanese, thick kind) is to pour it over rice & grilled summer veggies. my favorites are eggplant and kabocha.

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