This easy recipe is loosely based on the famous Caribbean fish stew and substitutes turmeric and paprika for the more traditional achiote (also known as annatto). Cilantro stems — too often underused and underestimated — and spicy habaneros pack a punch and depth of flavor in the curry paste. This version is fairly mild, but you can increase or decrease the amount of habanero chile depending on your spice tolerance.
- 3 small onions, peeled
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems, plus chopped leaves for garnish
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 red habanero or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded, depending on heat preference
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 (14 ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
- 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into ½-inch slices
- 2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 to ½ pounds), peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 2 (8 to 10 ounce) portions Pacific cod (or any white fish), cut into 2-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Cooked long grain rice, for serving
make the curry paste
On a cutting board, thinly slice 2 of the onions and cut the remaining onion into quarters.
In a food processor combine the quartered onion, cilantro stems, garlic, habanero, paprika, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk and pulse to form a curry paste.
make the stew
Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, sweet potatoes, curry paste, and remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pat the fish dry, season with salt, and add it to the pot, nestling it into the sauce. Cover and simmer until the fish is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves, and serve with lime wedges and steamed rice on the side.
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Pair it Up
Reach for Gewürztraminer, Riesling, or Grüner Veltliner, versatile wines that will work well with the spice in the stew. If beer is more your speed, pour a crisp pilsner or lager.
Know Your Cook
Tara Holland stepped out of her successful career in the financial corporate world to follow her culinary dream and graduated with honors from the Institute of Culinary Education in 2017. She was Assistant Food Editor at Rachael Ray Every Day magazine and is now a freelance recipe developer, writer, and recipe tester. Her work has been in Rachael Ray In Season, Reveal magazine, Cleanplates.com, The Kitchn, and WeightWatchers.