Sunday, March 10, 2013

Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod - Gluten-Free!

Thai flavors thrill me! The exotic nuances of coconut milk, lemongrass, curry, hot peppers, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil and even fish sauce tickles my palate like no other cuisine. The big bonus for we celiacs and others with gluten sensitivities is that many Thai foods are naturally gluten free.

Thank you Thailand for giving us rice noodles instead of wheat noodles, rice paper wrappers instead of wonton wrappers made with (what else?) wheat. There are some lovely soups and salads that fit the GF lifestyle to a "T" and even most of the curries are soy sauce and gluten-free. Be sure to check with the restaurant kitchen about hidden gluten or that there aren't cross contamination issues.

Of course, one SURE way to be certain your Thai meal is gluten-free is to make it at home yourself. Difficult? Well, that depends. If you're going to be all strict about authenticity, you might be in for more than I'm willing to deal with for a quick weeknight meal. Then again, if you're not looking for a quick meal or if you're trying to impress company, go whole hog and full on Thai. For me most times, I'm looking for a Thai(ish) treat in a hurry. 

Which brings me to today's recipe. Yep, another fish/seafood dish for Lent or just for your meatless arsenal. Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod came about as a result of watching friends enjoy Friday Fish Frys and missing out on being able to indulge myself. I LOVE Fish Frys! I MISS Fish Frys! I am tired of having a side salad (hold the croutons, please) while tablemates chow down of one of my favorite foods. So I fixed that problem at home.

Instead of wheat flour, I used rice flour for the dredge - you do know that Bobby Flay uses rice flour for his own crispy fried fish, don't you? He doesn't use it because it's gluten-free, he uses it because it makes a light, crispy and crunchy batter. If it's good enough for BF, it's good enough for me...and gluten-free to boot!

Here's what I did. I dipped the pieces of cod in coconut milk and then in coconut accented rice flour to really emphasize the coconut-iness of the finished dish. The sauce used even more coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, fish sauce and other items I had in the pantry along with green onions and red & yellow peppers for color and more crunch.  

To plate it up, I used a base of brown rice (yep, I used the frozen Trader Joe's again - I told you I was doing a quick meal!), pieces of crispy coconut cod, a glaze of gorgeous red sauce and snappy veggies. 

My Fish Fry friends might even experience feelings of envy over this tantalizing Thai temptation! Fish sandwich? Nice, but run of the mill. Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod? One exotically beautiful, sweet, tangy, zippy, crunchy and absolutely delicious dish!

Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod
 Serves 4

  • 2 nice cod fillets, cut across into 3-4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, I like the lite version
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil, to a depth of about 1/2" in your skillet

  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, lite again
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

  •  cooked brown or white rice

Prepare the sauce: In a saucepan, combine vinegar, honey, curry paste, ginger, water, salt, granulated garlic and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and whisk until thoroughly combined. 

Mix the cornstarch and 2 T. water into a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the sauce, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer again. Stir until the sauce becomes thickened.  Stir in the veggies, remove from heat and set aside while you make the fish.

Mix rice flour, coconut flakes and salt. Transfer the mixture to a plate; add coconut milk to another plate. Dredge the fish pieces first in coconut milk, then in the flour mixture, coating thoroughly over all sides and edges. Set aside.

Add the oil to a skillet to the depth of about 1/2". Bring oil to 375 degrees. Once the oil has come to temp, add the fish pieces carefully a few pieces at a time - do in several batches if necessary, just don't crowd the pieces. Brown on all sides and remove to a paper towel covered platter until all pieces are done.

To serve: Place the fish pieces on top of brown or regular rice - even rice noodles would be wonderful - then spoon the sauce over the fish being sure to get lots of veggies in each serving.

NOTE: Try using shrimp or scallops instead of cod...or your favorite fish fry variety. For your non-fish eating friends, try using strips of chicken! It's all good.
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