Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Fish Fillets with Pineapple, Peanut, and Coconut Curry

Oi, don't that sound like a mouthful? That's cus it is, and a darned tasty one at that! If you like fish and pork, then this is the dish for YOU. Mmmmmmmmmm... I drool on the keyboard as I type this and remember the flavours... ahhhhhhh...

Ok dave, take a deep breath and calm down; your stuffed pumpkin will be out of the oven soon so you can eat. Mmmmmmm...

Oops, back to the topic. So, like, what kinda fish? I used basa. Basa is a freshwater white fleshy fish found in the Mekong Delta (that'd be Vietnam). I do believe it's a type of catfish. I wouldn't want to use US catfish for this as they are darned flavourful on their own (deep fried with a cajun chili dipping sauce). Basically, any small whitefish fillets will do. Hake, Whiting, Hoki, Basa, Cod, Halibut, whatever.

One of the nice things about this is that it only takes 20 mins and it'll feed four hungry adults (provided they like bacon and fish, of course).

A note about Bacon... American bacon is from pork bellies, whereas Canadian bacon, UK, Aus, Kiwi, etc is from the pork back. The difference: The belly pork is fattier than the back pork. Thin-sliced American bacon probably won't work too well for this as it would crispy up before the fish was done; I'd suggest for you US'ns to use either Canadian bacon, or thick sliced US bacon.

Alrighy, here we go with Dingo Dave's Bacon Wrapped Fish Fillets with Pineapple, Peanut, and Coconut Curry.

What you need:

4 whitefish fillets (I used basa, but hoki, hake, cod, or halibut would be fine)
8 LONG slices of THICK bacon


For the curry sauce:
one can (400 ml or 16 oz) coconut cream
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
one good sized handful of coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
2 to 3 tbsp of minced onion
a couple of tbsp olive oil and a 1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp prepared lemon grass
1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
pinch or two of chilli powder
1 or 2 tsp turmeric powder

Optional garnish stuff:
thin sliced red capsicum (red bell pepper)
fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
parsley sprigs
fresh basil leaves
etc (use your imagination)

What to do:

First, put your rice on to cook. 1 cup of uncooked should be enough, but don't short yourself as leftover rice is a very good thing to have in the kitchen. Short, long, medium, jasmine, basmati, whatever you prefer. You should have some rice cooking technique where you can go away and leave it for 20 mins, and then POOF perfect rice. A microwave oven makes a great rice cooker.

Once the rice is on, wrap each fish fillet with two slices of bacon. You don't need to pin the bacon on with toothpicks. Start cooking the bacony-fish either on your big grill hotplate, or a large frypan. Low heat. You can also bake it in a hot oven, but if you do that you'll want to get them in the oven before the rice as they'll take 20 or so mins to cook in the oven. I prefer the hotplate on the outdoor grill thankyouverymuch.

Once the bacony-fish starts cooking, you'll start the curry. Put the olive oil and sesame oil in a wok, add the pineapple, onion, and peanut. Crank the heat medium-high. Just when the wok starts to sizzle, add the rest of the curry stuff. Toss it every ten or 15 secs so it doesn't burn, then after 2 mins (you'll smell WONDERFUL spicy aromas) add the coconut cream, stir, and turn the heat down low.

By now, it should be time to turn the bacony-fish. They really only need 7 or 8 mins a side. It should smell really really really good by now.

While the fish finishes cooking, give the curry a stir every minute or so. Give it a taste, adjust seasonings: if it's not spicy enough for you then add some more chili powder, if it's too hot then add some cream, if it's too tart, then add a bit of sugar.

It should all come together 20 mins after you started the rice. Each plate gets a bed of rice, then the bacon wrapped fish, and the curry sauce poured over the top. It'll look something like this:

bacon wrapped fish fillets

I know, my parrot pics are a heckuva lot better than my food pics, but I was rushed a bit.

Oh, I didn't have any fresh red bell peppers, so I added some dried ones to the curry --as I'm sure you can tell from the pic, eh? Garnish with whatever herb you'd like. Or not, your choice.

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