Spicy, pan-fried fish steaks Chettinad

Photo by Joi

We do love a good fish curry, here’s a medium hot one from the south of India. The fish are encrusted with coriander and chillies mixed into a paste with salt and lime juice then quickly pan-fried. The original recipe uses kingfish, or seerfish steaks, you can also use swordfish or mackerel steaks cut at a diagonal. (The steaks look much larger this way, they’re traditionally cut from between the tail and the stomach.)

For 4

2½ tablespoons ground coriander
2½ tablespoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
5-6 teaspoons lime juice or lemon juice
4 x 1cm (½ inch) thick kingfish steaks
about 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
extra lime or lemon wedges for serving

Combine the coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, salt and lime or lemon juice on a large plate and mix. Add about 6 tablespoons of water to make a thick paste. Taste to check the balance of sour and salt. The paste should be fairly salty at this stage. Rub the fish steaks on both sides with the paste and set aside for 15 minutes. (You could marinate them for up to 3 hours to let the flavours really seep in – refrigerate in that case.)

Rub the bottom of a heavy frying pan with a little of the oil and put on a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, put in as many of the steaks as you can in a single layer. Cook the steaks for about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until they’re nicely browned and just cooked through. Do all the steaks this way, adding more oil as it’s needed.

Serve with plain rice and wedges of lime or lemon. Yum.

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