Curried Fish Steamed in Banana Chillies


The little Thai CookbookA smooth curried custard with fish fills these chillies. Choose a selection of colours for a very striking dish. Red, yellow and orange chillies keep their colour better than green ones. You can also use small capsicums of various colours.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


Fish Filling
  • 5 dried long red chillies
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 Asian shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 coriander (cilantro) roots, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 cm (½ in) piece of galangal, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon makrut (kaffir) lime zest or 2 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz (275 g) firm white fish fillets, cut into 1 cm (½ in) pieces, or small raw prawns (shrimp) or small scallops
  • 14 fl oz 1⅔ cups (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 banana chillies, or small capsicums (peppers), preferably elongated ones
  • 2 handfuls of Thai sweet basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 4 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded, thinly sliced, for garnish
How to Make It
  1. To make the fish filling, using a pestle and mortar or blender, pound or blend the chillies, garlic, shallots and coriander roots together. Add the lemon grass, galangal, makrut lime zest, shrimp paste and salt, one ingredient at a time, until the mixture forms a paste.
  2. In a bowl, combine the curry paste, fish, coconut milk, eggs and fish sauce. Keep stirring in the same direction for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set slightly.
  3. If using chillies, or if the capsicums are the long ones, make a long cut with a sharp knife, or if they are the round ones, cut a small round slice from the tops. Remove the seeds and membrane, then clean the chillies or capsicums and pat them dry. Place a few basil leaves in the bottom of each. Spoon in the fish mixture until it nearly reaches the top edge.
  4. Fill a wok or a steamer pan with water, cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Place the chillies or capsicums on a plate. Use a plate that will fit on the rack of a traditional bamboo steamer basket or on a steamer rack inside the wok or pan. Taking care not to burn your hands, set the basket or rack over the water and put the plate on the rack. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15–20 minutes. Check and replenish the water after 10 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and transfer the chillies or capsicums to a serving plate. Spoon the coconut cream on top and sprinkle with makrut lime leaves and sliced chilli.

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