November 28, 2010

Fish Moilee

All kinds of seafood, cooked in every imaginable way, is fundamental to Kerala cuisine. An old-time favorite in our family is the Fish Moilee, a staple of most Sunday lunches. It is a wonderful stew where the sweetness of the coconut milk is balanced with the spiciness of the green chillies, ginger and pepper powder. It pairs well with bread rolls or appams.

1 kg seer fish (neimeen), cut into medium  slices
(or any fatty fish like salmon, halibut, sea bass)
1 large red onion, sliced lengthwise
8-10 green chillies, split in the center
2 tomatoes, cut in large quarters
1 tbsp ginger, cut in juliennes
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
A few sprigs of coriander leaves (cilantro)
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Marinate fish with a little salt and turmeric and keep aside. Keep 1 cup of coconut milk aside and dilute the rest with 1/2 cup water.

Heat oil in a pan. Saute the onions lightly. Add ginger juliennes, green chillies, and curry leaves. Add the turmeric powder, pepper powder and salt. Mix well, and add the diluted coconut milk. When it starts boiling add fish pieces. Let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomato pieces and cook for another 5 minutes. When the gravy is slightly thick, reduce flame to a simmer. Add the remaining coconut milk, lemon juice and coriander leaves. Cook for five more minutes as all flavors blend together.
Note: Traditonally, the fish is cooked directly in the coconut milk. However, I prefer to brown the fish slightly in hot oil and then let it cook in the gravy. Both ways are uniquely yummy!

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