Curry Fish – This fish curry recipe is spicy, savory, and full of bold, complex flavors – everything a curry should be, in my opinion! Aromatic herbs, coconut milk, and my secret weapon, homemade curry powder, make this dish delicious to the extreme. Best of all, it’s super easy to make. 💯
This is the dish for a fantastically flavorful weeknight meal, my friend. You don’t need any special cooking techniques, and it comes together in literally half an hour. Plus, if you’re not a big fan of dishes with a strong fishy flavor, the bold spices from the curry have got you covered. 😉
More on that secret weapon. My homemade Jamaican curry powder is what makes this dish! You can totally use the store-bought variety, but I highly recommend trying the homemade version. The flavor is spectacular, you can customize the spices, and there are no sneaky preservatives or hidden ingredients. 👌
Which Fish Is Best?
Which Fish Is Best for Fish Curry?
Any firm-fleshed white fish is great for this recipe. Mackerel, tilapia, snapper, cod, mahi-mahi, halibut, sea bass, catfish, or grouper are all great choices. Curry is ideal for economical fish that are stronger on the fish flavor. Curry sauce always overpowers the fishiness, especially if you marinate and sear the fish before adding it to the sauce. 🐟
- Fish Steak – Two to three pounds of fresh fish steaks are perfect for this recipe. You could even use frozen fish if you’d like.
- Seasonings – Curry powder, minced garlic and ginger, thyme, bay leaves, basil, paprika (regular or smoked), and parsley come together beautifully for this curry fish.
- Veggies – Onions, tomatoes, and red and green peppers all make an appearance in this particular curry.
- Coconut Milk – Full-fat coconut milk for the win, my friend. The higher the fat, the more flavor you’ll get from this ingredient.
- Hot Peppers – Spicy peppers like habanero, scotch bonnet, or chili peppers are optional here, but I highly recommend them if you can handle the heat. 💥
How to Make Curry Fish
Prep the Fish
- Season fish with salt, curry powder, white pepper, and ½ teaspoon garlic, and set aside. You may do this just before cooking but for best results, season the fish and store it overnight in the refrigerator before cooking the following day. (Photos 1-2)
- Sear – In a cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat until it’s hot. Then, add the fish and brown on both sides – 3-5 minutes or until the fish is nicely browned. You can skip these steps if you’d like, but note that they do cut down on the fishy flavor. (Photo 3)
- Set Aside – Remove the fish and set it aside. Drain most of the oil, leaving only about 2 tablespoons in the pan.
Make the Curry
- Saute – Add onions, minced garlic, ginger, thyme, curry powder, and bay leaf, stirring for about 2-3 minutes, allowing the flavors to blossom. Then, add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. (Photos 4-6)
- Coconut Milk – Pour the coconut milk and water in and continue cooking for about 3-5 minutes. (Photos 7-8)
- Add Heat – Next, throw in the hot peppers, if you’re using any, along with the bell pepper, basil leaves, and smoked paprika. (Photo 9)
- Add Fish – Return the fish to the pot with its accumulated juice. Bring everything to a boil, adjust the salt, and cook for about 10 minutes. (Photo 10)
- Finishing Touches – Finally, add the chopped parsley, adjust the sauce thickness, and season with water or broth.
- Serve warm, and enjoy. 😁
- Turn this Jamaican fish curry into an Indian curry fish! Add some Indian flavors to the mix, like Kashmiri chili, fenugreek, and tamarind paste, to make this dish taste more like an Indian curry. You can find all those ingredients at your local Indian (or possibly Asian) grocery store.
- Customize the veggies, and feel free to swap out the veggies for any that suit your taste. Carrots, peas, and any other veggie you like will work well here.
Tips and Tricks
- Fish steak is preferable when it comes to the cut of fish you use for this recipe. Ask for this cut at your grocery store’s seafood counter. But if you can’t find any, don’t sweat it. Regular filets will also work.
- Use a cast iron skillet to brown the fish if you have one. It works like a charm for browning them up perfectly without burning.
- Make the homemade curry spice mix! I said it before, but it bears repeating. The difference in flavor using the homemade blend compared to the store-bought stuff is like night and day. 🌓
You can make this dish the day before if you’d like. Simply reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until it’s warmed through.
Fish will last a month or two in the freezer but can lose its texture after that. 😬
Serving and Storage Instructions
Serve curry fish warm over a bed of steaming rice. You can store leftover fish in an airtight container in the fridge for three days.
Reheat it in the microwave or stovetop, but don’t overheat it. The goal is to warm the fish up, not to cook it even more, which could make it turn tough.
The secret is in the full-fat coconut milk. Light and fat-free coconut milk are mostly water and won’t make your dish creamy or flavorful. This is one recipe where you should splurge on full fat. 🤤
Test it with a fork. Put the fork in the thickest piece of fish at an angle and twist gently. If the fish is cooked through, it will flake easily. Fish that isn’t quite done won’t flake easily and might look a little translucent too. Those are signs your curry fish needs to stew for a few more minutes. ⏲️
It’s not your imagination because it totally does. Researchers have found that food continues to marinate, break down, and release flavors even after being removed from the stove. So if your curry tastes even more flavorful the next day, it probably is. Yay leftovers! 😆
What Goes With Curry Fish
Watermelon salad is a surprising pairing that also tastes amazing alongside this curry. And, of course, don’t forget some dipping bread for that curry sauce. I love flatbread or Indian fry bread with curry fish.
More Simple Curry Recipes to Try
A weeknight meal that only takes 30 minutes to make and is a total flavor explosion? Now that’s a recipe you should add to your weekly meal plan! Don’t forget to let me know how you liked it in the comments after you give it a try. 🤗
Watch How to Make It
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This blog post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
Curry Fish Stew
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon (2g) grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon (0.80g) fresh thyme, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons (12.5-20g) curry powder
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- ½ -1 cup (112-240ml) coconut milk
- 1½ cups (350ml) water, or broth (more or less)
- Hot peppers (habanero, scotch bonnet, or chili peppers) optional
- 3-4 leaves basil
- 1-2 teaspoon (2g) paprika
- ½ red bell pepper, diced (green or yellow bell peppers work too)
- 1-2 tablespoon (4-8g) parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Season fish with salt, curry powder, white pepper, and ½ teaspoon garlic, and set aside. If you have time, refrigerate it overnight until ready to use.
- In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until hot, and then add the fish and brown on both sides – 3-5 minutes until the fish is brown. You may omit this part if desired.
- Remove fish and set aside. Drain oil and leave about two tablespoons.
- Add onions, minced garlic, ginger, thyme, curry powder, and bay leaf. Stir for 2-3 minutes, so the flavors blossom, then add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Pour in coconut milk and water, and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes. Then throw in the hot pepper (if using), bell pepper, basil leaves, and smoked paprika. Return the fish to the pot with its juice. Bring to a boil, salt, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add chopped parsley.
- Adjust sauce thickness with water or broth and seasoning to taste.
- Serve warm.
Tips & Notes:
- I used tilapia steak in the recipe – feel free to switch it out for any white fish – examples include; kingfish, sea bass, cod, grouper, haddock, catfish, and red snapper. Fish steak is preferable.
- If you love curry anything, make your own spice blend for extra delicious curry—the difference is like night and day. Like this Jamaican curry recipe.
- For my healthy peeps, skip the browning at the beginning.
- A cast-iron skillet works like a charm when browning fish. If you can invest in cast iron, I would say go for it. Besides, it’s more affordable than high-end pans.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.