One of the reasons I love food is the stories meals can tell. A dish can bring to mind a tale of childhood comfort, budding romance, or a holiday gathering.
Tasting the foods of other cultures can give you a glimpse into their lives and loves. Taking those flavors and bringing them into your home makes the world a little smaller, bringing us all closer together. Of course, most ethnic foods get translated a bit (or a lot) when brought to a new culture, but the shared flavors and love of food still bring people together.
My love of Asian cuisines started when I was very young. In fact, my family taught me to use chop sticks when I was about five or six years old. I remember when my younger brother was learning to use them, I said something about just giving him a fork, and Memaw said, “If Chinese babies can learn to use them, so can he.”
When a coworker recently gave me some homegrown scotch bonnets, I thought I needed to make something spicy with them. As I went looking for recipes online, I realized that spicy fish would be the perfect use for those peppers. While this is not a recipe you might find in a simmering away in a Thai home, it invokes some of the same flavors and ingredients from going to my favorite restaurants as a kid.
- Heavy braiser or saute pan with lid
- Wooden spoon or scraper
- 4 fillets of good white fish (I used flounder, but tilapia also works well)
- ~1/2 cup shredded dry black fungus, rinsed and reconstituted
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 Tbsp.)
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 pound carrots peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 or 2 scotch bonnets, according to preference
- 3 Tbsp red curry paste
- 13.5 oz. coconut milk
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup fresh green beans, ends snipped and cut in half
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 cups bok choy, roughly chopped
- Cilantro to garnish
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Heat the coconut oil in the bottom of braiser or heavy saute pan.
- Add the onions, garlic and ginger; sauteing until onions start to soften and brown.
- Add the carrots, reduce heat, cover and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Add curry paste and scotch bonnets, stirring until curry paste loosens and mixes into vegetables.
- Stir in coconut milk, rice vinegar, and vegetable stock, followed by green beans and reconstituted black fungus.
- Place fish over sauce and vegetables.
- Cover fish with bok choy.
- Cover with lid and bake for for 30 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.