Asian Coley Fish Recipes Thai Vegetarian

Thai Red Fish Curry

Fish is something only very rarely eaten in our house. One reason for this is because it tends to be relatively expensive. However, one must remember that there are always cheap ways of eating most things (see my advice section). For instance, if one is looking for a fillet of succulent white fish, why not use coley instead of cod? There is always a reasonably priced alternative to that which is most in vogue. Trout is much cheaper than salmon and one must never forget the varieties that most don’t like the look of, such as gurnard. Remember, in the world of fish, it doesn’t have to look good to taste good; use the misplaced shallowness of other’s to your advantage.

Coley, my whitefish of choice, is particularly good for recipes such as this, since it has a robust, meaty body which doesn’t fall apart too easily – assuming it hasn’t been overcooked. This fish tends to come filleted with the skin left on, though one should remove the skin for this particular recipe. To do this take the fillet from its tail-end and slide a sharp, thin knife between skin and flesh, pull the skin and slide the blade back and forth at a slightly downward angle. If you buy your fish from a fishmonger and can’t be bothered to learn, they should prepare it for you. Though, it is always a good thing to learn a new skill.

This is a really delightful and delicious meal, particularly for this time of the year; not only is it packed full of the fragrant flavour you’d expect from a Thai dish, it is light and refreshing – perfect for this time of the year. One needn’t follow my recipe exactly; the amount of chilli used, for instance, is completely up to you. I don’t like things too hot, so there were only two small red chillies in the dish you can see before you.

The Olympics has begun here in Britain and we just won our first medal – silver in the women’s road race. I do hope you’re all enjoying the proceedings and everything seems to be going very smoothly at the moment. Good luck to your respective nations and I hope you enjoyed the history lesson of an opening ceremony.

Thai Red Fish Curry

Serves 3-4


• 300g whitefish, I used coley

• A knob of ginger, peeled

• 2 cloves of garlic

• 1 stalk of lemongrass, finely chopped

• The juice of half a lime

• 2-3 fresh red chillies

• 1 tbsp tomato puree

• 1 onion, very finely chopped

• Oil

• 2 good slugs of fish sauce

• 400ml coconut milk (not reduced fat)

• 100ml water

• A generous pinch of salt

• Coriander to serve


1. To make the curry paste blend together the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime juice, chillies, tomato puree and a little oil. Heat a little more oil in a large saucepan and begin to fry the onions. After 5 minutes add the paste and cook for a further 10 minutes. Tip in the coconut milk and water and continue to cook to allow the flavours to infuse.

2. Season the sauce to taste before adding the fish in large, skinless chunks. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is completely done. At this point one can serve the dish, though if the sauce is a little thin one may opt to remove the fish from the sauce and turn the heat up for a little while. Ensure it is served piping hot, sticky rice and coriander is optional.

Cost: Though fish can be relatively expensive this particular fillet wasn’t too pricey – a trifling £2. As such, when one considers the inexpensive nature of the other ingredients, the cost of the entire dish isn’t very much at all. Indeed, this recipe is enough for four when served with rice and should set one back a mere £3.20!


89 replies on “Thai Red Fish Curry”

What type of pepper did you use? It might be hard for me to find over here “across the pond”. What would be a potential substitute? I can’t wait to try this!!!

Ok so do you fancy popping round with a bowl!? I am poorly, sick and dying and need something hot and spicy to snap me out of it! Honestly this looks fantastic! As soon as I can drag myself into the kitchen again, this will be getting made! 🙂

This sounds great. I love reading your recipes like this. It’s not a range of flavors that I’m familiar with, so your posts inspire me to give them a try. Your chicken biryani was very good, by the way. 🙂

I myself wasn’t able to watch the opening ceremonies since I don’t have cable, but I heard from a couple of people that the 7/7 tribute was cut out of the American broadcast and they instead showed an interview that Ryan Seacrest did with Michael Phelps (The swimmer that took 8 gold medals at the last summer Olympics), which is unacceptable in my opinion. I read a couple of articles as well about the American commentators being condescending toward some of the other countries which is also pretty unacceptable.

Thanks. I’m glad you think so! Perhaps it’s unacceptable, but I don’t think it matters so much. I think it may have been a coincidence – it’s more annoying that they wouldn’t show it all the way through.

Oh we love a good curry here. I don’t buy much fish either mainly because i am adverse to buying fish when i am hundreds and hundreds of miles for the sea.. just not seem right somehow.. but there you are, i will be in NZ in december and then i will be buying fish, straight from the boats! c

Your Thai curry with fish sounds terrific. At our market, we can buy what they call chowder cod. It is chunks that are taken off to make perfect filets. It is always much cheaper than a whole filet of fish.

Oh I love coley! I have a massive side of it waiting to be eaten and I think I found the recipe to do it justice! I am really enjoying your photos since you’ve got your new camera and stylish zeal! Not that you didn’t have stylish zeal before…

Of course you point out the history lesson in the opening of the Olympics. What’s history anyway? They don’t teach us that here in the States. But what they do teach us is how to spot a sexy meal and let me just say that this curry is absolutely breath-taking, Nick! You are continually inspiring me at my try at homemade Thai food.

well done with that drool-triggering photo!
over here, whitefish is actually a fresh water species unto its own, and a perfect vehicle for big flavours as it is really rather bland. i shall be making this soon, thanks for the recipe!

this was fantastic with our whitefish white fish 🙂
and i deem it absolutely worthy made with light coconut milk if that’s all you have on hand, though i imagine it would be even more sublime with the real thing.

I made fish curry for the first time last year using fresh bass (caught in our lake) and the flavor bowled me over. Great point about using “other” fish in recipes — you never know until you try! Also liked the dusting of coriander you suggested. Mmmmm…..

Ugly fish taste the same as pretty fish! Especially when filleted and cooked into such a gorgeous soup. I can’t wait to try this, though I think I might add in some vegetables too to make it a complete meal…it’s summer so we can be a bit lazy, right? 🙂

Swai and pollock! Back in college (and now), tilapia and salmon were usually ridiculously priced, and I’d buy swai and pollock instead. Don’t know if they’re readily available in Britain, but here in the States I can usually get a 2lbs for $3-4 instead of 3 times as much for other fish!

This looks so delicious – I’m about to be off fish for a month, but it will be one of the first things I make when I am back to eating seafood!

I enjoyed most of the Opening Ceremony. Please don’t take that as an insult – our coverage here in the States absolutely sucks and the presenters would not stop talking. I was in London last month and was able to see the prep.

This looks delicious!

fish curry. awww RED fish curry… mhhhhhh… looks so delicious! there is more than just curry paste to a good curry! well done!

I made this today for lunch and I just have to say “Amazing ” instead of tomate paste I blended fresh tomato also instead of water I used chicken stock …Wow.

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