Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cook the Book: Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth

Recently, I've mentioned that I picked up Ellie Krieger's book, The Foods You Crave. I've seen her show sporadically on the Food Network, but I hadn't really read through her recipes.

That is until my car broke down. Goodyear needed 5 hours to fix it and the mall was within walking distance. When in doubt? Shop!

Well, 3 hours later I felt like the crazy bag-lady you invariably see at the mall clutching an extra large Macy's bag and her purse. The Macy's bag was to hold the various purchases she's made during her visit that has lasted soooo long that their individual bags have worn and broken. So she piles them all into an extra large Macy's tarp and sits on the bench by the fountain drifting off into bored sleep.

She? Yup, she was me.

So, in order to pass the rest of the time, I ventured to the iddy biddy book store tucked next to the Footlocker and bulk candy shop. And picked up Krieger's book. And I'm happy I did.

I've been looking for interesting foods that pack nutrition, but not a lot of calories. I've found in my quest to manage my eating and weight that I search for flavor, not necessarily fat. Since fat often is a vehicle for flavor, it's easy to mistake the two. Twenty pounds later, you begin to wonder why evolution couldn't be just a little more specific.

The first dish I made was the Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth.

A total risk in my house.

Mighty M is a picky eater and, while he fancies himself to be adventuresome, he's really a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He knows when you've added a little lemon and fresh thyme to things and wonders why it couldn't just go back to salt and pepper.

Fine for him, but a world of salt-n-pepper'ed salmon filets with steamed broccoli was NOT going to solve my search for flavor.

I've now cooked a number of dishes in the book and can say I'm openly in love with Ellie. Her food is easy to prepare, full of flavor, and surprisingly acceptable to M's (ahem) refined palate. So, I'm sharing with you the recipe (pulled from the Food Network site, but also in her book) and some notes I have for the first dish. I promise to do some picture taking (a la Pioneer) for future editions.

For now, though...go and make this. And eat it. It's delicious. Delicious.


Thai-Syle Halibut with Coconut-Broth

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste*, or 2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon, plus more for seasoning
4 (6-ounce) pieces halibut fillet, skin removed {1}{2}
Steamed spinach** {3}
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving {4}

*Available in the Asian section of most supermarkets
**Steam or microwave 5 cups of washed baby spinach for 2 minutes

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until reduced to 2 cups, about 5 minutes.

Season the halibut with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange the fish in the pan and gently shake the pan so the fish is coated with the sauce. Cover and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 7 minutes.

Arrange a pile of steamed spinach in the bottom of 4 soup plates. Top with the fish fillets. Stir the cilantro, scallions, and lime juice into the sauce and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. {5} Ladle the sauce over the fish and serve with rice.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional Analysis per Serving Calories 418
Total fat 8.7 grams Saturated fat 3 grams
Protein 43 grams Carbohydrates 41 grams
Fiber 2 grams Sodium 600 milligrams

{1} I was shocked at how expensive halibut was! I never really cook with it and it was clear why -- too expensive. So I found out from the fish guy that there were less expensive flash-frozen filets in the freezer section. They were a good deal less expensive and I didn't have any complaints on the taste.

{2} A quick note on portions. I made this dish with only two large filets, not four. Mighty M and I lurve sauce, so I figured it would be fine to have leftover sauce and avoid the likelihood that leftovers would go wasted. Let me tell you -- we ate every drop of the sauce. Would have licked the pan if it weren't so hot. If I had friends coming over for this dish? I would definitely double it so everyone could enjoy the sauce, too.

{3} If you like spinach, definitely double this. I love spinach and would have loved to have had more. It was a little treat hiding in the bottom of the bowl for me, and I wanted more. Not a spinach fan? 5 oz will do you just fine for 2 people.

{4} I recently noticed that my g'store started selling the microwavable brown rice cups again. (Sorry, I can't find a link for them!) I would definitely recommend using these...they cut back on prep time and dishes to wash, without loosing out on taste or nutrition.

{5} Definitely wait to the end for these aromatics. They were an amazing addition to the flavor and simply made the dish. But we noticed that over time (while we were noshing) they grew more muddied and less bright. If there were put in the sauce more than moments before serving, I think they would lose their punch.


LBTEPA said...

You can SHOP FOR 5 HOURS???
Seriously darl, go and just do the next Ironman that's on near you coz you've got STAMINA.
I think my mojo has run off with yours - when I catch the little buggers I'll send yours back, ok?

robert said...

I love Thai food, don't think I've ever had a bad Thai meal, either at home or out. Will definitely try the recipe Thanks for sharing.

triguyjt said...

wow...what a recipe....are you kidding???

by the way... I found your mojo. It was hitchiking on I 80 near Ohio..I'll return it.

Andrea said...

This book is AMAZING! I have made many, many things from it and have loved them all (except the stuffed turkey burgers - they come out a little dry).

My husband and I have a goal to make every receipe in here by the end of the year (he has a crush on Ellie).

We were lucky enough to have her at one of our fundraisers this year and I got to meet her and ask her specifically about training and nutrition. She is as sweet as her ricotta cheesecake!

Happy cooking!

kt said...

Oooo, I am definitely gonna get this book. I have not found a fish dish that I like yet but Mr KT is always asking for it so maybe this is the one.