This curry can be made with whatever seafood you find locally! Here, we’ve used wild caught sustainable New England fish and shellfish from the cold northern waters of the Gulf of Maine.
When I make a seafood curry, you know company is coming.
Let’s get together! We’ll cook.
Recently, we were delighted to have a visit from one of my favorite bloggers, and friend, Terrie Gura from Comfort Du Jour, a fabulous website I know many of you follow. She arrived in the aftermath of the recent flooding in Vermont, at a time when we were still ducking between the thunderstorms to do our hunter/gathering for our cooking adventures. She certainly was a trooper, weather forecasts in hand, making her way through unfamiliar territory to our door, in the midst of road closings and washouts. But once she was here, we had a great weekend of talking, exploring, and, of course, cooking up a storm.
Bread, lots of bread!
Terrie brought with her a lot of bread and baked goods from a four-day course she took at King Arthur Baking here in Vermont. When I say a lot of bread, that is an understatement, and there remains some in my freezer, and breadcrumb and crouton containers. These delights accented every meal, and long after she went home! Read the story of her Terrie’s Exciting Vermont Adventure here.
I know, let’s have a dinner party!
While our first night was casual, we invited my daughter and her family to join us on the second night for a little diner party. Curry was on the menu, something everyone in the family loves and it can easily be made working around dietary restrictions – there’s no nuts, dairy, eggplant, mangoes, or gluten to be found, so I can make this even for my extended family. Because of the way I make this dish adding the seafood at the end, I can even accommodate the vegans in the family by reserving a portion of the base to add to some tofu. Everyone is happy.
What’s good today, Sean?
I love to visit my favorite fish markets and find the day’s treasures. Get to know your fish monger, introduce yourself and get her/his name and remember it. It’s a great food relationship to have, and there’s lots to learn about what is available and when. I’m always learning something new, and often I’ll find an extra oyster or two in my bundle. Cook’s treat!
Know what to expect
I know I can usually find haddock or cod for the main fish here. There might be halibut, sole, flounder, skate, or other seasonal offerings on any given day, so I purchase what looks best. While I can usually find the Maine peekytoe crab, or spider crab from Massachusetts, sometimes when I’m lucky there will be Maine Jona Crab claws or even Massachusetts blue crabs. The Jona Crab claws make beautiful presentation, and have delicious sweet meat. But, they are a little hard to crack through, so it is every bit the challenge of a lobster! The Gulf of Maine shrimp are tiny, but sweet and delicious, and I can usually find them frozen, peeled and deveined. Thank goodness. The sea scallops were too pricy to even consider. I love mussels in this dish, but they were not to be found that day, so I kept it simple. Please include them if you can.
I like to mix up my own spices for a curry, but if you have a favorite curry blend you love, by all means use that instead. I don’t bloom the cayenne pepper with the other spices. If you’ve ever created pepper gas in your kitchen by doing this, you will be very careful with this spice and a hot pan!
I made a quick stock with the trimmings from the vegetables and mushrooms, it only takes a few minutes and is worth the little effort – free stock!
We served this with a salad of bitter greens and farm stand delights, and finished it off with a stunning bread pudding, Terrie’s grandmother’s recipe, which I will now treasure! We used blueberries we bought at the berry farm earlier in the day, and while I’ve never tucked blueberries in a bread pudding before, I’m happy to report it was delicious and I will do it again!
This feast will serve six, with another four portions (minus the claws) left over for lunch the next day. We mixed the leftovers with the rice and served it all together, of course with a lovely slice of Terrie’s homemade bread.
New England Seafood Curry over Brown Jasmine Rice
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion or two leeks, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb and stalks, chopped, reserve some fronds
- 1 luscious carrot, cut into half coins
- ½ lb. local mushrooms of choice (which I forgot to put in!)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1” chunk fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 cup mushroom or vegetable stock
- ½ cup baby turnips, whole, or larger turnip, chopped
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 ½ lb. New England haddock, or local white fish, cut into large chunks
- 6 Gulf of Maine Jona Crab claws, or local crab claws
- 1 lb. Maine shrimp, peeled and deveined, or your local
- Garlic chives or regular chives to garnish
In a large brasier or shallow pot, heat olive oil over medium high. Add the onion, mushrooms, fennel bulb, and carrot, and cook until the onions are translucent. You are not looking for color here.
Clear a spot in the center of the pan and add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes so these flavors can bloom, until the paste has darkened and you smell all the spices. Deglaze with the wine, then add the cayenne, stock, and turnips. Bring to a boil, cover, and gently simmer until everything is cooked. You can make this dish to this point and reheat when it is time to finish the curry by adding the seafood, which only takes a few minutes to cook.
Add the coconut milk, stirring until heated and steaming, then nestle in the fish and the crab claws (the claws already cooked and flash frozen, so they only need to heat through). Add the shrimp, cover, and remove from heat. Maine shrimp are really small, so they cook quickly off the heat. If you are using larger shrimp, they will take a minute or two longer, but not much.
Check to see if the fish flakes easily, then garnish with the chives and a few fennel fronds and serve. This is delicious over brown Jasmin rice, but you can ladle it over pasta or another grain as well, it’s all good.
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