Malaysian Fish Curry

Keifer Derrin of food blog cooks a fish curry for the first time.

I am finally able to make a fish curry – my other half doesn’t think that fish should be used in a curry as it spoils the flavour of the fish, but I disagree. He also doesn’t like fish that much which makes it even harder to convince him. So, I am very pleased to say that he is out on the town tonight, and so a fish curry is on the menu!

After scanning a few recipes I decided to make Malaysian fish curry. This is not normally something I would make because I don’t like desiccated coconut. This ingredient isn’t in the same league as boiled eggs – (see more on the ‘About Me’ page), so I have decided that I should push my boundaries when it comes to foods I don’t really like. How can I talk about something if I don’t like it or have never tried it.

The list of ingredients is a little long, but don’t be put off, as this makes a flavoursome and colourful curry, without being too hot (actually that part depends on you and your heat limits).

I would have used cod, but as there have been a few campaigns to get us to eat more sustainable fish I decided to use Coley. It’s very similar to cod with the same white firm texture but about half the price. The only thing is the bones, but they are very easy to remove if you have some tweezers. A fish that I think will be seen a lot more in our house.


500g firm-textured fish fillet, (I used Coley)
½tsp salt
50g desiccated (dry and unsweetened) coconut
6 shallots or small onions
6 blanched almonds
2-3 cloves of garlic
1” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1-3 fresh red and green chillies, seeded
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed
2tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 x 400g can of coconut milk
salt and pepper for seasoning
fresh chives for garnish (optional)


Dry heat the coconut in a pan, stirring continuously so as not to burn. Keep stirring until the coconut is golden and crispy. Place into a food processor and blitz until it becomes an oily paste, then place to one side.

Put the shallots, almonds, garlic and ginger into the food processor and blend until a paste.

Cut 2 inches off the lemongrass, remove the outer layer, chop up and place it into the food blender. Also add the chillies. Blend until finely cut up into the paste. Then add the turmeric and blend again until it’s all together until the turmeric is completely mixed into the paste.

Add the oil to the frying pan and heat. Add the paste for a few minutes stirring continuously so as not to brown the paste. Throw in the can of coconut milk, stirring to mix all together. Bash the leftover lemongrass and also add to the wok. Very slowly heat up the curry sauce, stirring occasionally ensuring the coconut milk doesn’t split (coconut milk will split if you heat it too quickly or the sauce becomes too hot). Cook the sauce for about 30 minutes and then removed all the lemongrass stalks.

For the last 10 minutes, cut the fish fillets into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle some salt over then put to one side.

When ready add the fish and cook for 5 minutes and add the coconut paste (you can moisten the paste by adding a little water) and cook for another 5 minutes. Add any seasoning you require. Serve with plain boiled rice and add some freshly chopped chives.

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About Keifer Derrin

Having worked in IT for over 20 years, Keifer Derrin quit his job to do something new. Not claiming to be a Gordon, Heston or even a Delia, Keifer’s passion for all kinds of food includes trying out new recipes whether they take 10 minutes or 8 hours to prepare. He also enjoys eating out - anything from The Ledbury to Pizza Express and even a local greasy spoon! Keifer also does voluntary work for the Food Chain, a charity that supplies food, meals & nutritional education to people who are HIV+. Check out his food blog at
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