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.
If you’re looking for other super quick weeknight fish recipes check out my seared Chilean sea bass recipe, Oven Baked Trout, Mok Pa Recipe, Asian noodle bowls with sesame fish, Broiled Whole Red Snapper Recipe and quick Mexican tuna salad.
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.
Jenn @ Peas and Crayons says
Kudos to you for even attempting to scale your own fish! I’ve never tried it myself, even with sharp knives vs dull ones! This curry looks AMAZING and I would totally inhale a bowl!
Haha seriously worst experience ever. NEVER doing that again : )
Matt @ Plating Pixels says
I’ve never had a fish curry but the flavor combos here are awesome! Plus I have everything besides the fish!
Thanks! Fish curry is soooo good – you’ve got to get your hands on some fish!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
I looooove curries of all kinds and this sounds terrific!
Thanks! Curries are perfect in the winter time!
Cynthia | What A Girl Eats says
I’ve never met a curry I didn’t like…this looks delicious!
Thanks! Curries are the best!
Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says
Vicky, this curry looks so hearty AND packed with flavor. I’m a bit under the weather right now, and I wish I had a big bowl of this to fix me right up!
Well come on over I’ll whip this right up : )) Feel better! I’ve been fighting a cold for about a week now and am almost 100% but still have a runny nose : //
Hey Vicky! I’ve been making your recipe for a year now! Simply delicious!! I use heavy cream instead of coconut milk. But I have a question. What would you use instead of tomatoes in this recipe? Someone I’m cooking for is allergic to them. Thx again for sharing this with us!
Apologies for the delayed response – somehow missed this comment – tomatoes would be hard to substitute in this recipe – you could try adding roasted red peppers and some kind of fish or chicken broth to replace the can of diced tomatoes.
This was delicious! I made it with halibut. Yum. I will he making it again!
So glad you liked it Ammie! And glad to hear it works well with halibut!
I made this with cobbler and it was excellent. Any firm white fish would work well.
So glad you enjoyed it! Never tried cobbler before.
Just cook it for dinner.. njamm.. tasty and easy to make!
Yay so glad you liked it! Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment and let me know what you thought!
What size can of coconut milk and diced tomatoes???
I have both but only a small can of the milk and a lg 28oz can diced tomatoes.
In that case use all the coconut milk and half the tomatoes.
A 15 ounce can of both coconut milk and canned tomatoes
What size of can of diced tomatoes?
A 15 oz can. Apologies that isn’t spelled out in the recipe. I will add it now.
Peggy Bauer says
I made this dish for my family a few days ago and they’re still talking about how good it is!!! I made it exactly as written and it was incredible! This recipe is now a family favorite that will be used many more times. Thank you so much for sharing it!
Yay! SO happy to hear that Peggy! THanks for taking the time to comment and let me know what you thought of my recipe : ))
What is mato please? I don’t recognise the ingredient but maybe we call it something different in the UK.
Apologies for the typo — that is meant to say 1 tomato! Sorry about that!
Merav Ross says
How many people is this recipe for?
The recipe is for 4
What type of onion? Yellow, white or another type? Does it matter?
Any of those will work!
I have made this at least 10 times over the last 2 years. I wasn’t sure about combining fish and curry, but the flavors are amazing. This is super easy, really filling, and it keeps in the fridge for up to a week so I can make a batch on Sunday and pack it for lunches all week. Definitely don’t skip the fresh lime and cilantro – those are key ingredients and really make it all come together. Thank you so much for this great recipe!
So happy to hear that Stefanie!! Thanks for commenting to let me know : ))
hannah grayboff says
This soup was incredible! Where on the Pacific side did you live? Sending good vibes from Montezuma-so delicious. The story was on point-enjoyed reading. Just picked up a bunch of chile dulce, snapper down the road from us and homemade coconut milk-I will be making This very often now.
Yay so happy to hear you enjoyed the fish curry!
Hi, Vicky, we have made your fish curry with Basa, a white fish – absolutely delicious! And we love curry, so double wow! Now a staple dish at our house, easy to prepare for company, too! Thank you for creating. Dianna
Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so happy you enjoyed my recipe!
We make this soup all the time with cod and add whatever fresh vegetables we have on hand. Tonight we added shredded carrots and sliced mushrooms.
Glad to hear you like my recipe! Great idea to add carrots and mushrooms!
We made this last night and it was delicious! We served it over rice which was a perfect addition but this is an extremely filling and tasty meal overall. Plus there are tons of leftovers that I’m excited to dig back into
Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed my recipe!
Dale Jones says
This sounds wonderful. A couple of questions. What kind of curry powder do you use? I cook just for me so do you think the curry without the fish would do OK in the freezer. Thanks.
I use organic yellow curry powder that I buy at Whole Foods but any curry powder will work. Yes I think this would freeze well! Hope that helps!