Fish Curry Topped Off

CurryFishPie_newYou know the feeling. Browsing through a food magazine or cookbook at the store and you see it–the recipe you can’t live without. Sometimes it’s the photograph, sometimes the ingredients, or the maybe it’s the novelty of the dish. “Curried Fish Pie” in Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food was it for me. As a chef friend once said, “a new cookbook is rarely a bad investment.” Study a few fresh recipes and jump in–make something different! Your family and friends will be delighted with the change up. And you can never go wrong with Jamie Oliver. Check out his newly released Super Food Everyday, for easy-to-combine ingredients and original pairings.

Our fish curry with optional egg

Jamie’s “Curried Fish Pie” called for a potato crust and handfuls of fresh spinach and lots of diced tomatoes. I thought substituting kale and red peppers (drained after chopping) would make the dish less watery and more substantial. We eliminated the salmon and settled upon just white fish and a few prawns. Finishing with our bean-cauliflower mash instead of potatoes boosts the fiber and nutrition while not sacrificing the texture, taste, or beauty of the dish.


Dried beans need a slight simmer for 15 minutes the night before you make the dish or early in the morning. The partially-cooked beans are stored in the refrigerator in enough water to generously cover them for at least four hours or overnight. It will then take about 60-90 minutes on a medium to low simmer to have them cook properly, but not be too mushy for the mash topping. Don’t boil or let the skins spit.


The entire bean-cauliflower mash can be made a day ahead or just the beans, if that is easiest. Cook the beans according to directions above. Drain in a colander, and store cooked beans in refrigerator. If you don’t cook the beans ahead of time, start them about 30 minutes before you turn on your oven.EGGS:
If you are using hard-boiled eggs and don’t have any already made, place some eggs in pan submerged in cold water, bring to boil, then turn off heat and cover immediately with a lid.  The eggs will be done in 13 minutes. Run under cold water and set aside to cool, then refrigerate.CURRY:
Warm a skillet or Dutch oven (or large heavy-bottomed sauce pan) on medium and add a tablespoon of oil. Finely slice the chilies and add to the pan with their seeds and 4 cloves of peeled, finely-sliced garlic. Then place the curry leaves and mustard seeds in the oil, stirring until the garlic starts to brown and the curry leaves begins to cook. Have a splatter guard handy because both curry leaves and mustard seeds tend to sputter and pop. After several minutes, remove from heat and set aside half of the mixture (which is called a “temper”) for finishing the dish, making sure you reserve enough of the red chilies to brighten the topping for serving. The other half of the temper will form the base for the curry.  CurryFishPie_layer_ curryleavestransferred my curry leaf temper from the skillet to a Dutch oven allowing room for coconut milk, onions, and kale, but the entire process, including making the temper, could be done in just one large pan like a Dutch oven.Peel and chop two onions (I do mine using the on-off pulse style in the food processor) and mince the gingeroot and add both to the pan with the curry leaves and another tablespoon of oil. Add the turmeric and fenugreek seeds. Cook the mixture down for about 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.

While it is cooking, prep the kale by removing the coarse center stems and chop into one-inch pieces (you will need 4 handfuls of kale). Seed and chop the red peppers (again, the food processor for me), drain them in a colander and set aside.ADD COCONUT MILK:
Once the onions and spices have incorporated and cooked down, add one can of low-fat coconut milk and mix in, keeping the heat on medium.
Then add the kale leaves and cook until somewhat wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Spoon curry-coconut milk-kale mixture into your casserole pan(s) and allow to cool.

CurryFishPie_layer_ green


Break apart the cauliflower head and cook/steam the florets in several inches of water until done, turning once or twice. Drain and allow to cool.

Peel and devein prawns, leaving their tails in tact. Cut other fish into bite-sized pieces, and remove any tiny visible bones.

Add a layer of red peppers over the cooled curry-kale mixture in your casserole dish.

CurryFishPie_layer_ peppers
If you are using hard-boiled eggs, quarter and place delicately around the prawns and on top of the red peppers
Then add the rest of the cut up fish to the dish.
Place the drained cooked beans and the drained cauliflower into your food processor–there should be a ratio of about 2/3 beans to 1/3 cauliflower so the topping stays firm on baking (you may have leftover beans for salads, other dishes, or for weekday snacking). If you are using garlic, add 2 pressed or minced cloves to the food processor. Start with the on-off method pulse method to incorporate all of the ingredients. Then run your processor continuously just until a creamy potato-like consistency is achieved.  You may need a tablespoon (or two) of liquid, (water or milk or even a little butter). Measure and don’t add too much, you don’t want them watery. Salt and pepper to taste.You can spread the topping with a large spoon, using the back side to create a scalloped effect, or rough it up with a fork. We piped on top of the fish casserole using a large tip and a piping bag filled with the mash.

A gallon zip-lock bag with 1/2 inch of a bottom corner cut off works just as well. Apply the mash in the same manner. Keep an eye on the top of your filled bag under either method and watch that the mash doesn’t squish out. Because the dish is so light and since the mash is much less dense than potatoes, you can go a bit heavy on the topping.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes until mash starts to brown and the curry is bubbling around the edges. I turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end and watch continuously with the door cracked a bit until the desired color is achieved (about 5 min).
Finish with remaining curry leaf, chili, garlic, and mustard seed temper.