Red Curry Poached Cod

Sometimes dinner is born from what’s on special at the market – and often those dishes turn out to be the most interesting because they are unplanned and must be created from ingredients you have on hand.  We try to have some type of seafood at least once a week, and this week Whole Foods had wild-caught, Alaskan cod on sale.  Cod is a nice, mild, flaky fish that adapts well to different flavors.  I had some coconut milk and limes that I needed to use, so I decided to try to poach the fish in a Thai-style broth.  It was very yummy, but turned out a little spicier than I intended.  However, James thought it was just the right amount of heat.  When we try this again, I think some toasted cashews would be a great addition, and I’d also like to try basil instead of cilantro.


  • 2 tablespoons butter (preferably from grass-fed cows)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into quarters lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut milk (unsweetened), shaken well
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste (I make mine from The Spice House Thai Red Curry Powder, mixed with fish sauce to a paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla), if not used to prepare curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar, to taste (optional)
  • ~ 2 or 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews (optional)
  • 1 to 1/2 pounds wild-caught cod fillets
  • kosher salt

Heat butter in a heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Saute the onions and red bell peppers until they are very soft, 5-10 minutes.

Add Thai red curry paste to the onions and peppers and stir well over the heat to mix.  Pour in the coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce (if not used to make curry paste), and palm sugar (if using).  Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for around 10 minutes so the flavors can blend and the broth can reduce slightly.

In the meantime, rinse the cod with cold water, pat dry, and lightly season with salt.  Fold the thinner parts of the fillets underneath, so the fish is relatively of the same thickness.  Place the cod fillets in the saute pan, and nestle them into the broth as much as possible.  Simmer on low, covered, for 8-10 minutes, until the fish flakes easily.  During the last minute or two of cooking, add chopped cilantro and toasted cashews (if using).  Serve hot, with a spoon to capture all of the broth.  Enjoy!

Very spicy…and wonderful, as are the musical selections! First up, Luiz Bonfa Plays & Sings Bossa Nova. I love bossa nova, and his guy is one of  best. He wrote “Black Orpheus”, and is a legend up there with Jobim and Joao Gilberto.

David Bowie, bossa nova? Yes! The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions with Seu Jorge will make a believer out you- might even pick up some Portuguese!


25 thoughts on “Red Curry Poached Cod

  1. Oh! This looks amazing. I have had some cod in the freezer for a couple of weeks and have been looking for a way to do it. I will definintely be trying this!

  2. That looks wonderful! I do a similar stew with shrimp, but I like the simplicity of poaching the fish in the sauce. You’re right that cashews would be a nice addition. I add a spoonful of chunky peanut butter to mine. Great photos, as always!

    1. Yum, I bet it would be great with peanut butter (what isn’t?)! I’ve been skating aound what might be a shrimp allergy, so I haven’t been brave enough to try shrimp for the last year. I need to have that checked out, because I miss shrimp a lot!
      Thanks for the nice comments, as always!

  3. Wonderful that you’re all getting back into the groove! Here’s wishing you both all the best from Singapore. I love reading this blog – it’s written with the same type of logic that and fun that we write ours. Sister blogs almost! Again, nothing but the best from Singapore and we’ll keep in touch! Roman

    1. Thank you for the well wishes and kind comments! We are indeed getting back into some sort of groove (yay), and will try to keep up. I’ve been enjoying your blog also!

      I added you (along with all the nice bloggers who commented above) to our blog roll, because you all are fantastic in every way! Nancy

  4. This looks so delicious. I have some Alaskan cod in the freezer, but usually pair it with a miso-based sauce. This looks like a really fantastic change-up. Thanks!

  5. I have only recently tried curry and I can’t wait to try different recipes and variations..
    thank you for sharing your recipe..the color of the curry is amazing

  6. Definitely need to cook cashews with the curry, and drop hand-torn basil leaves on your plate immediately before eating. (Don’t cook the basol.)

  7. I made this last night. Or a version of it anyway. I used Masaman curry and cauliflower instead of peppers because that’s what I had on hand. Anyway, this is my new favorite way to have white fish. Thanks so much for posting.

  8. I’ve never poached fish before but this looks like a really flavorful but light way to make cod or any other white fish – I think I may have to try it this week!

  9. ::kick kick kick:: no light coconut milk ever!! Stupid me!

    This recipe is great, thank you so much. But really, I forgot how not-so-great light coconut milk is. It’s not-so-great. The cod is amazing in the red curry! Trader Joe’s has some frozen cod pieces that were a great substitute for (cheap) me. Instead of palm sugar, I used white sugar. Do you think that plus some coconut oil would have been a decent replacement?

    Thanks again! Great dinner tonight! And tomorrow!

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