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Thai fish curry with vermicelli

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

I was missing good Thai food and wanted to make something different than the standard Thai curry (yellow, green, red, masaman, jungle or Penang) that are so over done. This was the recipe I chose from my library. Thai food is slowly moving out from the ordinary to the extraordinary due to the opening of speciality high-end restaurants that are bringing both new recipes, as well as, creating contemporary versions of old classics. I welcome this change as it brings with it an appreciation for the culture.

This curry hit the spot in so many ways, beautifully flavored with galangal and lemongrass, and served with a massive platter of noodles and fresh vegetables that it is almost overwhelming. The contrasts in textures and the pop of flavor from the curry made it perfect. This is a lavish one-dish meal, you really do not need anything else. Bangkok is a wonderful and colorful cookbook that focuses on the vibrant and exotic food of a city known to be one of the food capitals of the world. Well researched and written recipes make this an exceptional book on my shelf. There are ingredients that are hard to find, but that is also what makes these recipes authentic and amazing. A must for any cook who wants great Thai food on their home table.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the fish:

1 lb fish fillets, trout, sea bass, tilapia, red snapper or other

3 cups water


For the spice paste:

1 tablespoon tender lemongrass, not the outer fiber outs leaves

1 tablespoon galangal, or ginger. If using dried galangal, soak overnight to soften

1 cup shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 Thai chilies, or to taste, or 2-3 guajillo chilies, torn and soaked overnight in water

2 tablespoons dried salted fish, or anchovies from a can

1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste


For the curry:

2 tablespoons oil

1 can (13.8 oz) coconut milk

A few drops fish sauce

Salt to taste

Cilantro, minced

To serve:

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Bok choy, thinly sliced, or substitute lettuce

Broccoli, in bite sized florets, slightly blanched

Cucumbers, thinly sliced

Basil leaves, torn roughly

Hard-boiled, or 6-minute eggs, halved or quartered

Lime wedges

Thai rice vermicelli noodles, cooked as per the instructions on the package.

To make the spice paste:

Add all the ingredients to a small blender and purée till smooth. If using dried guajillo chilies, open the soaked chilies and remove all the seeds and ribs and use only the skins and pulp. Also use the strained soaking liquid instead of water to make the paste. Note: You need to add a minimal amount of water for the paste, just enough to get the ingredients to slide down the sides of the blender. You are looking for a thick paste, not a thin runny one.

To cook the fish:

Add the fist to the salted water and bring to a gentle simmer for about 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the fillets. You want the cooked fish to have a firm texture and not fall apart easily.

Remove the fish from the water and set both the broth and fish aside for later.

To make the curry:

Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the spice paste. Saute on medium heat till the paste has dried out a bit, turned a beautiful red color and the oils have begun to separate out, about 10 minutes. Patience is required here, do not turn up the heat for fear of charring the paste.

When the paste is cooked add the coconut milk, fish sauce and salt, mix well to dissolve the paste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings. Add the fish and simmer very gently for an additional 10 minutes. Do not stir the curry often somthe fish fillets stay whole and do not start falling apart.

Meanwhile, cook the vermicelli as per instructions on the package.

To serve:

I like to make a beautiful display of this dish. I ladle the curry gently onto a deep bowl and top with the cilantro. Put this bowl on a large platter. Arrange the vegetables, lime and basil decoratively on the platter. Serve immediatel.

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