Best Yellow Curry Ever!
This yellow curry recipe with seared halibut and fresh summer vegetables was incredible! Bright and deep, velvety, and packed with healthy ingredients, it was the perfect way to to take advantage of the gorgeous vegetables still filling the backyard garden. It was so delicious that you’d never guess that this curry recipe was amazingly nutritious, dairy-free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free too!
Our little urban backyard garden is still putting out good quantities of peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, beans, and loads of herbs. Since I know that the end of summer produce is rushing our way, I wanted to take full advantage of what I have in the backyard. This curry recipe was perfect! It’s come up before, but it’s amazing how much less expensive and more delicious your meals are if you can start growing your own food! Even if it’s just a few herbs on your windowsill, it will make a huge difference. I have tons of great ingredients sitting outside that in quantities that I’d never have otherwise. Gardening really pushes you to be aware of the seasons and what’s at peak deliciousness, and then to use that knowledge to make better meals than you could find in any restaurant.
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The halibut for this yellow curry recipe came from my awesome aunt and uncle’s last trip to Alaska, so that was another ingredient that was already here, begging to be used. If you have any friends or family who hunt or fish, talk to them and see if they’d be willing to share or trade their prizes with you! Most of the time, not only is shared food the most affordable option, but it’s also the option that offers the most incredible flavors.
Shared Interests and Better Meals
Don’t be afraid to talk to people about what they do for fun! Once they discover that you’re interested in something that they love, you’d be surprised how likely it is that they’ll want to share what they have with you. If anybody starts asking me about my garden, I pretty much always start offering them whatever I’m growing. Most of the time, the people who like you will be excited to find out that you have a shared interest, and you might be able to find that you have something of your own to offer in return!
I remember the first time someone asked me about the garden I had been working on after moving to Napa. It was the first time I’d had raised beds of my own, plus we had these massive orange and lemon trees on the property. For a girl from Minnesota, this was heaven! It was paradise! I had planted a few herbs, some little starts and seeds when a friend of mine revealed that she had been working on some recipes and wished that she had citrus trees and herbs of her own so that she could get this lemon pastry she was working on exactly the way she wanted it without spending so much money on citrus. I basically ran home and filled a huge five-gallon bucket full of lemons, oranges, and thyme to give to her because we simply had more than we knew what to do with. It was so fun to realize that I had a ton of the exact ingredients that she was wishing she had.
It’s exactly the same situation with our homemade kefir and kombucha, believe me…
Once you get started making your own kefir and kombucha, you’ll have more than you know what to do with. There will honestly come a point when you start trying to pass the stuff off on anyone who discusses anything remotely close to topics like health, probiotics, and so on. These projects are really fun and rewarding, but if you’re not careful, they can make you seem pretty weird.
My ultimate worry, of course, (and I think this winds up being a pretty common concern) is that if I just wander around randomly offering produce, homemade kefir, and kombucha mothers to people who have expressed absolutely no interest in these things, I’ll eventually look like a complete loon. The same, I think, goes for people who have a freezer full of meat. There’s just no good way to ask “hey-you want some free meat?” without at least considering the possibility that the police might become involved…
The moral of that story is (of course), if you know someone who gardens, hunts, or likes to go fishing, start up a conversation! The worst you’ll be out is a little time, but there’s always a possibility that you might wind up with some incredible ingredients you can’t find anywhere else and a friend who feels like you actually want to know about the activities they care about. Give it a chance: you could wind up with better meals and better friends!
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Notes for the Curry Recipe
Blanching and refreshing vegetables for this curry recipe is a simple technique that’s come up again and again here, like for the Cod with Summer Vegetables recipe as well as the Ridiculously Useful Green Herb Puree. It’s really easy: just bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the vegetables to the boiling water and cook them until they still have a little crunch (or cook your vegetables all the way, if that’s your preference). Then immediately drain the vegetables and plunge them into ice water, draining and drying them once they’re completely cold.
For this curry recipe,I’d recommend cleaning off the ends of the beans, blanching them whole, and then slicing them after they’re cold. For the carrots, I’d recommend peeling and slicing them, and then quickly blanching them after they’re sliced. It’s just quicker and easier.
Want to take it to the next level? There are a lot of chefs out there (myself included, but far from all of them), who believe that root vegetables should be started in cold water, brought up to a boil, and then removed from the water when cooked a little less than you want, and allowed to cool at room temperature. (They will continue to cook a little as they cool.) The idea is that this does a better job of preserving the flavors of root vegetables. Whether or not you decide to go this route with your carrots is entirely up to you; I’ve seen it done both ways and I’ve never heard a complaint from a customer regarding how they believed their vegetables had been prepared.
The reason that I sliced the eggplant and seared it separately for this curry recipe was simply so that I’d have a nice bed on which to prop up the halibut. Go ahead and cook the eggplant right in your curry if you prefer! (For that matter, you can cook the carrots and beans in the curry as well. They won’t have the same great color, but they’ll add flavor to your curry.) If you want to do it the way it was done for the picture, slice your eggplant, let it sit with salt on it for about 10 minutes, and rinse off the salt and pat the eggplant dry. Heat a saute pan with 2 tsp of neutral oil until it’s shimmering and carefully add the eggplant, turning it once as it begins to color. When it’s tender, it’s done!
If you’re looking for a little help thinly slicing vegetables, check out this recipe for the vibrantly healthy Rainbow Power Bowl with Turmeric Yogurt. If you’re having difficulty, you might want to try sharpening your knife or even splurging on a new one (I use this guy for absolutely everything: it’s lightweight, easy to use, and does a great job of staying sharp. Now, if you’re looking for a more drool-worthy knife…)
Wondering where I got those pretty garnishes? Another reason everyone should start a backyard garden. You have year-round access to gorgeous and delicate little flowers that you can use to make every dish even more pretty (without spending an extra dime!)
Impossibly Delicious Yellow Curry with Seared Halibut and Summer Vegetables
- 4-6 oz halibut filet per person
- 1 12 oz can coconut milk
- 1 Tbs + 1 Tbs coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 1" piece ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 cup vegetable stock or water
- 1 stalk lemongrass, tough parts removed and soft inner part finely minced
- 1 thai chili or serrano, minced (seeds removed for less heat)
- 1 Fresno or red jalapeño, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs yellow curry powder
- 1 Tbs turmeric
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 Tbs fish sauce
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 Japanese Eggplant (or small purple eggplant), thinly sliced and lightly sautéed (see above)
- ½ pound green beans, blanched and thinly sliced (see above)
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced and blanched (see above)
- 1 bunch thai basil, picked and torn or sliced
- Salt, to taste
- Optional garnish: pea flower, squash blossom, thinly sliced scallion, purple basil, black sesame, Maldon salt
- Heat 1 Tbs oil in a pot over low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, and minced chili and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the curry powder, turmeric, and paprika and sauté gently for about 5 more minutes, until the fragrance becomes strong.
- Add the coconut milk and stock or water, raise the heat, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Gently cook for 20 or more minutes to really combine the flavors. For a very smooth broth, puree and strain the broth and return to low heat.
- Just before serving, add the carrots, eggplant, and ½ of the beans. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Heat a saute pan with 1 Tbs oil until nearly smoking. Season the halibut generously with salt and carefully add it to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook 4-7 minutes, until you can see the edges begin to get golden, Carefully flip and continue to cook until fish is cooked through (about 4-6 more minutes, depending on the thickness of your halibut).
- Place the eggplant in a row in a bowl, pour in the curry, and place the fish on the eggplant. Toss the reserved beans, thinly sliced peppers, and basil together with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime juice. Top the halibut with this mixture and any other garnishes you choose to use, and enjoy!
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