Healthy Option Fish Curries
  |  First Published: August 2011

As we learn more about healthy and unhealthy fats in our diets, the quest develops to refine traditional recipes into modern healthier versions without loosing any flavour. Or better still, enhance flavours by the intelligent use of modern ingredients.

I refer to these updated recipes as ‘modern fusion’; where the healthiest parts of a variety of food cultures are combined to evolve smarter eating habits. I’ve often noted that the foods from different countries are lot similar than the recipes books might lead us to believe. The foods have different names but are the same in concept and use, for example Mexican breads (tortillas) are very akin to Indian breads such as chapatis.

The main objective for healthy options is to substitute the saturated fats and Trans unsaturated fats (like those found in butter) for polyunsaturates or even better monounsaturates (such as olive oil). In Australia we have strictly developed margarines (with the Trans fats reduced to minimum or even removed) and cholesterol friendly spreads that are a further notch up on the healthy scale.

Not withstanding the developments in good fats, CSIRO recommend that you should still keep your oil intake down to a total of three teaspoons of oils or standard margarine per person per day.

Likewise, instead of the traditional coconut cream I have substituted light coconut flavoured evaporated milk; the Carnation brand by Nestle has less ‘bad’ fat. An alternative is to use the light Carnation milk and flavour it with 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence.

The Carnation Light and Creamy Coconut flavoured evaporated milk has one of the most descriptive fats labels that I have seen. The label claims 92% less saturated fat than regular coconut milk: One brand of light coconut cream that I checked out had 14.8g of saturated fat per 100g, the Carnation option has only 1.1g per 100g. Label awareness is becoming the sign of the modern foodie.

Fish Curry option 1 (serves two)

2tsp of cholesterol friendly spread

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3tsp grated fresh ginger

2tsp ground turmeric

2-3 large green chillies, finely chopped

1 cup light evaporated milk (Coconut flavoured)

500g fish fillets

1 packet of ‘bread’ (chapatti or tortilla)


(1) Heat the spread (CSIRO advises that you can use more spread if you opt for a light version) in a heavy-based frypan over a medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion, garlic and ginger until the onion has softened. Now add the turmeric and finely chopped green chillies to the pan and stir well. Continue to sauté the spicy mixture in the frypan for about a minute.

(2) Add the evaporated milk to the frypan. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about five minutes.

(3) Add the fish fillets to the frypan and cook for about three to four minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish fillet) until the fish fillet is tender. Turn the fish fillets over once during the cooking process.

(4) The fish curry is now ready to serve with an Indian chapatti or two (or wholemeal Mexican tortilla) to mop up the delicious sauce.

Fish Curry Option 2

1tbsp ground coriander

2tsp ground turmeric

1tsp ground cumin

Pinch of ground ginger

1tsp chilli powder

Pinch of ground fenugreek

1tbsp white vinegar

1tbsp olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup light coconut evaporated milk


(1) Combine the ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, ginger, chilli, fenugreek and vinegar together in a small bowl to make a spicy paste.

(2) Heat the olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about a minute before adding the garlic to the pan. Sautéing the onion first and then adding the garlic will stop the garlic from burning and tasting bitter. Add the spicy curry paste to the pan and mix thoroughly with the onions and garlic. Continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.

(3) Add the flavoured evaporated milk to the mixture in the frypan. Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about three minutes.

(4) Add the fish fillets to the frypan and simmer for about three to four minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish fillets) until the fish fillets are cooked. Turn the fish fillets over once during the cooking process.

(5) Serve as above.

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