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.
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,
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.
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
For Curry Gravy:
- Prepare cornstarch slurry by adding cornstarch and water in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
- In saucepan, heat vegetable oil over med. heat, then add garlic and shallots. Fry till fragrant and lightly brown. Do not let burn.
- Add chilies and smashed lemongrass stalks. Cook for about 2 minutes to coat the lemongrass with garlic and shallots.
- Add water, curry powder and fish sauce (or soy sauce).
- Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes until lemongrass begins to soften and release it's fragrant oils.
- 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.
- Turn off heat. Pour over fish, vegetables or meats.
Fried Fish Directions
- On plate, sprinkle fish with flour. Evenly coat fish with layer of flour. For Gluten free, use rice flour.
- 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
- Plate fried fish and pour curry gravy over it.
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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.