JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 599

Patricia Barton: Something just a little fishy

Saturday February 15, 2020 Written by Published in Weekend
Patricia Barton: Something just a little fishy

They say the key to a healthy diet is to eat fresh. We are so blessed in the Cook Islands with a bounty of fresh fish, locally grown turmeric, so many varieties of chillies, fresh coconut cream, home grown tomatoes from the pots on my balcony; so a fish curry it had to be. 


This spicy little number would work with any number of aromatic wines, but I think this smashable Waihopai Valley, Kings Thorn Pinot Gris from the Marisco Vineyards works brilliantly. 

Double the recipe if you want more but this should serve four people as a main with rice. 

Spicy Indonesian-style tuna curry

2-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces
2-inch piece fresh turmeric, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces
2 shallots, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces
3 small red chillies, chopped
½ tsp salt
80ml peanut oil
500g fresh tuna fillet, chopped into 3-inch pieces
3 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
¼ breadfruit, steamed and cut into chunks (better than potatoes)
100ml coconut cream
2 tblsp kecap manis (sweet soy)
Juice of 1 lime
2 Kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 stick of cinnamon, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cloves
2 tsp ground coriander
Fresh coriander, to garnish
2 fresh green chillies, julienned to garnish (substitute green capsicum if unavailable) 


To make the curry paste place all curry paste ingredients and half the peanut oil in a blender. Add 40 mls of hot water and blitz, stopping to scrape down the side at least once. You should have a smooth paste. If using a motor and pestle, add the ingredients in order of list, breaking each one done before adding the next. Add a little water if it needs to be runnier and pulse again. 

Add the tuna pieces to a non-reactive bowl, add the lime juice and stir – set aside. 

Heat a large cast iron saucepan or pot on medium heat and add the other half of the peanut oil. Add the curry paste and cook for around 5 minutes. Be sure to keep stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon and turn down the heat and add a little water if it starts to burn. The paste should change colour as it caramelises. 

Once you are happy it is cooked through add the coconut cream, kaffir lime leaves, nutmeg and cloves and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Add the precooked breadfruit, tuna and lime juice reduce the heat and stir. Once it starts to simmer, taste the sauce and adjust with more salt or lime if you like. Cook for around 6 minutes or until tuna is just cooked through. Check by piercing one of the fillets. You don’t want it overcooked and remember it will continue to cook after it’s removed from the stove. 

Turn off the heat and let sit for 2 minutes before serving. 


⦁          If fresh tomatoes are not available, you can substitute a can of tomatoes.  You just may need to add a little small splash of vinegar to balance the acid of the dish. 

⦁          Kaffir lime leaves are sometimes available at Wigmores. Buy a bag, freeze the rest

⦁          Add more red chilli if you like it hot but always check how hot the chillies are first as they vary in heat during the year.


Leave a comment