Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thai Coconut Curry Halibut with Fresh Sauteed Spinach

Now that Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Super Bowl food frenzies are over, I can better focus on sharing healthier recipes. My family (and that includes moi) enjoys a little comfort food, fried food, pizza, home baked desserts and breads-- but we don't eat like that every single day.  Honest! 

While I do have 47 cake recipes (and counting) listed on my  Recipe Index, we don't always eat this way. I admit that I'm a bit guilty of enjoying the sharing of delectable desserts on my food blog, because who can't resist looking at food porn? Is a package of wild caught Halibut as enticing as, say, a slice of chocolate cake--with marshmallow frosting in the middle, and a thick slathering of chocolate frosting? I think not.

Still, I strive to make quick dinners with clean ingredients more often than not, and I hope you enjoy these types of recipes as well.   Since I started my food blog, in 2008, I've become more aware of where my food comes from, and how it's processed.  For most of my life, I thought I hated fish.  Once I realized the difference between cheap fish (from unreliable sources and questionable fish farms) -- or the difference between buying wild caught vs. farmed (some are good, some are not so good), I began to appreciate that good quality fish (though it costs more) taste so much better than bargain fish-- and it's better for you.


You'd think I could buy fresh fish, locally, since I love on the Monterey Peninsula.  It's not quite so easy.  I'm sorry to say, that our wharf has become more of a tourist destination than a place to buy the fresh catch of the day. Sadly, the fishmongers are pretty much gone, unless you want to buy a walkaway shrimp cocktail or calamari.  The only other place I can find fresh, or frozen,  fish is at my local Whole Foods. The prices are pretty steep, but I'm committed to buying the food that I feed to my family at reliable places.

Last year, the Certified Steak & Seafood Company sent a few packages of their frozen Chilean Sea Bass for me to develop a recipe (I have since read that Chilean Sea Bass is not recommended, as it has been overfished, but click here to read updates on seafood sustainability).  We loved the texture and flavor of this fish, and I have actually ordered more product from them. 

According to Seafood Watch Wild-Caught Alaskan Halibut gets the thumbs up.  We love it, because it's a very mild fish.  I love it Seared and Roasted, and I've prepared it with summer garden veggies. Delicious! I happened to have some frozen halibut that I thawed, and it was a work night.  I figured I could get this recipe on the table in less than 45 minutes-- and that's always a good thing.

I try to keep a bag of fresh spinach, in our fridge, at all times.  My favorite way to prepare spinach, is to wilt it with olive oil, in my beloved cast iron skillet,  that I've infused with a clove of garlic.  So delicious!  (This takes about 10 minutes.)

As luck would have it, I keep shallots on hand, as I do green onion. I always have fresh cilantro and parsley, as well. Seriously, I'm not making this up.  These are ingredients that I can always use, and a fresh herb keeper really helps to keep them from going bad-- for up to 2 weeks!   This took no more than 10 minutes of prep work.

Yes, I always keep a jar of red curry paste on hand as well.  Why? Well, because we love Thai food, and I'm slowly learning how to make it. Red curry has become my favorite, so far.

You might think I have a miniature grocery store in my pantry.  Well, I kinda do. I'm known to hoard ingredients, because I am very impulsive about what I want to make.  Coconut milk always comes in handy, so I was excited to make this recipe, because I had ALL the ingredients in my kitchen. I love it when that happens!

In a skillet, I added some olive oil and sauteed one chopped shallot, then added some red curry paste. 

To that I added some chicken broth (yep, I always keep a few boxes of it, or I freeze homemade broth) and coconut milk.  This will become the poaching liquid. (I added the herbs and green onion before poaching the fish, which was a boo-boo...thought it all worked out fine, in the end).

I was cooking for two, so I had way more poaching liquid than I needed-- as there was plenty for 4 fillets. Anyway, the lid is put on and the fish is poached for 7-8 minutes (or until no longer opaque).

The fresh spinach is wilted and piled on a plate (or a deep bowl) and then the poached fish is set atop. The sauce is removed from the heat, and this is where the fresh herbs and green onion should be added. D'oh! To the sauce, I added the juice of one fresh lime (another staple in my fridge).

What a fast dinner!  What a healthy dinner! 

TASTING NOTES:  Poaching the fish in this Thai-inspired liquid was delicious. But, I felt like there was just a little something missing... I wasn't quite sure.  Then it hit me-- lemongrass!  I have a recipe posted, for Thai-Style Chicken Soup that is one of our family favorites.  This recipe uses red curry paste, lime juice, cilantro and lemon grass.  So, the next time I make this, that's what I will add. I think this will really kick up the Thai-inspired flavors.  It's a keeper, and a handy dandy quick dinner that is delicious served with Jasmine rice. Yum!  
NOTE: fresh lemongrass is pretty easy to find at your local grocery store. I've never had to go to specialty store to find it.
Recipe is adapted from "Simply Recipes".

I hope to inspire as many people as I can to learn about buying fish that is sustainable and to be really aware of how fish is farmed-- and which fish are endangered. I am fortunate that I live very close to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Seafood Watch program is centered from here.  To learn more about how to buy fish, responsibly, please visit their website.  You can even download a free pocket guide on buying fish for the area in which you live here.

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here. If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at foodiewife@gmail.com and I am happy to help.

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Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I've printed this recipe and can't wait to try it, Debby. We love fresh halibut and this will be on the menu as soon as I buy some. Somehow I missed your recipe for chicken soup and am going to the grocery store for the ingredients. Like you, I keep a good supply of Asian ingredients on hand. I have been hungry for Thai food. Thanks for sharing.

Wendy said...

This looks amazing - a quick dinner that I'll definitly try this week. i can't believe you're on the water and can get fresh seafood. What a shame!

Unknown said...

Yes! halibut is enticing. Thanks. GREG

Leilani Schumacher said...

I have found fresh fish at Phil's in Moss Landing. Also have purchased fish right off the boat.

Joanne said...

Well, you know I love my cake! But I also love clean eating. Thai is an especial favorite. Totally loving this curry!

Big Dude said...

That's a great looking dish Debbie. We have enjoyed coconut with shrimp but don't believe we've tried it with white fish - might just have to change that.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Dear Leilani,

Phil's Fish Market would be a great place to go, but it's a bit of a drive (45 minutes) from where I live. Plus, that part of Hwy 1 is a treacherous one, trying to cross lanes!

Christine said...

Love halibut! This looks like a super way to make it. One question, I've never used red curry paste, how spicy is it? A little bit of heat for me is fine, but nothing too hot. Made spinach like this the other night and it was so good!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Christine, red curry paste isn't super hot. I'm very sensitive to super spicy hot food, and I do fine with it. Just add half of it, and decide from there. You can always add more. It's the green curry that's hot!

Glynda Carmona Getape said...

Hello Debbie, I am Glynda, a Filipina working and living here in Bangkok. I came across your site, looking for images of Thai Spinach. I was asking my Thai friend to buy me some but she did not understand what spinach was. I came across the beautiful photo of the spinach in this recipe of yours to show her. I keep on reading. And without noticing I was engrossed. You have a good approach in telling the procedure. Its how a homemaker cook can understand. Now I'll be checking your site regularly for recipes. :) Thank you for sharing.

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thank you, Glynda!