Caribbean Fish Curry is a one pot meal ready in 30 minutes that is a creamy blend of coconut milk, tomatoes, curry spices and tender red snapper. Both Gluten Free and Dairy Free.
Caribbean fish curry is going to be your new favorite 30 minute weeknight meal. I made this recipe for the first time while house sitting in Costa Rica, and finding alternatives for my favorite salmon and tuna. All I could get my hands on was snapper so I needed some new snapper recipes.
Since I knew I couldn’t have my smoked salmon rice bowl, or Asian salmon salad, or any paleo salmon recipes for that matter, I would have to come up with some new fish recipes. So using my vegan butternut squash curry as an idea, I decided I wanted to create a red snapper fish curry – more accurately this Caribbean fish curry.
Is red snapper easy to find in the US? Is it expensive? I don’t even remember. I feel like its not a super common fish though. Help me out here. Am I right?
Well here in Costa Rica it seems to be just plentiful. Just the other day D and I took the ATV to the beach – yep our only mode of transport around here is an ATV, and we do in fact ride it all through the dirt road village, cross a highway (more like a one lane asphalted road) and turn onto another dirt road to reach the beach.
On the way there we passed by a small house which had been pointed out to us as the local fish market. Hmm, well being the foodie that I am, I had to at least take a look around. In a big cooler they had a bunch of freshly caught fish – mostly red snapper. I quickly asked for a whole fish as well as a few fillets. Luckily I was able to communicate that I wanted the whole fish scaled by the fish monger.
Have you tried scaling a fish yourself? Without any of the proper equipment? In a tiny tiny kitchen? Unknowingly I had purchased several whole fish a few weeks ago while on vacation with D’s family and therefore had to take on the miserable task of scaling the fish with dull knives. Cue fish scales coating my body and my dress permanently smelling like the sea.
Nope I will not be doing that again. Also no easy task to make fillets out of a whole fish with a dull knife. I’ve tried it once, gotten that checked off the list, won’t be doing that again (at least not with a set of butter knives). Leave it to the professionals.
Happily seated on the ATV with my fresh fish we made our way back to the house. After a bit of mental recipe brainstorming I settled on a Caribbean fish curry as my meal of choice.
A dish I never make that has been inspired by my travels to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and Panama. The cuisine differs from that of the Pacific side in the use of Caribbean flavors and coconut milk. I had several incredibly fragrant coconut based curries while on that side of the country and it quickly popped into my mind as a recipe I needed to recreate.
Probably not quite an authentic traditional recipe and more of my own take either way, this Caribbean fish curry was rich, creamy, fragrant and flavorful. The red snapper is a firm and mild white fish that blends in with the creamy undertones of the curry, tomatoes and coconut milk.
The optional element to this Caribbean Fish Curry is the pan frying of the fish. I chose to pan fry the red snapper fillets for a few minutes separately just to get a bit of a crispy crust on them. This is entirely optional though. You can instead, season the fish, cut into bite sized pieces and add directly to the curry.
If you’re thinking of what to serve for dessert after this Caribbean fish curry dinner check out my pomegranate coconut chia pudding.
How to make Caribbean fish curry
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 red bell peppers chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 tomato chopped (1 cup)
- 1-2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- For the fish:
- 1 and 1/2 pounds red snapper fillet or other firm white fish
- squeeze of lime juice
- sprinkling of salt black pepper and cumin
- For garnish: lime juice and cilantro
- Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for a couple minutes.
- Add garlic, cook until fragrant
- Add diced bell peppers, cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, salt, black peppers, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing everything together.
- Add can of diced tomatoes, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Add coconut milk in 3 parts, adding 1/3 at a time, bring the mixture to a boil and then adding the 2nd and 3rd part. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Season fish with salt, black pepper, cumin and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Optional: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add fish once pan is hot. Pan fry for 3-4 minutes per side. Cut fish into bite sized pieces and add to the curry.
- Instead, cut the fish into bite sized pieces and add directly to the curry.
- Cook the curry for a few more minutes until fish is cooked through.
- Serve garnished with lime juice and cilantro.