Why It Works
- Using the same curry paste for both the marinade and the sauce doubles up on flavor while keeping prep time to a minimum.
- Proper preheating and oiling of the grill grate ensure that the fish doesn't stick.
The big ol' batch of red curry paste I had in my fridge was something I'd originally made for my phat phrik khing recipe, but there's only so much stir-fried green beans and tofu one can eat. So the other night, when my wife, Adri, suggested that we have fish for supper, my first thought was: How can I use that stuff up?
It turned out to be even easier than I'd imagined: Give it not one but two new uses, both as a marinade and as the base for a sauce.
- For the Curry Paste:
- 3 dried guajillo, California, or pasilla chiles (20g), stemmed and seeded
- 3 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped (15g)
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and roughly chopped (30g)
- 1 to 3 fresh red Thai bird chiles (to taste), roughly chopped
- 1/2 large bunch cilantro stems (about 1/2 ounce; 15g), roughly chopped
- 1 stalk (40g) fresh lemongrass, bottom 3 to 5 inches only, tough outer leaves removed and discarded, tender core thinly sliced
- 1 (1-inch) knob ginger, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) freshly ground white or black pepper
- Kosher salt
- For the Fish:
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup (60g) chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro, plus more for garnish if desired
- 4 (5- to 6-ounce) halibut fillets (see note)
- Nonstick spray or vegetable oil, for greasing grill
For the Curry Paste: Place dried chiles in a heatproof container and cover with boiling water. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes, then drain. Place rehydrated chiles, garlic, shallot, Thai chiles, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, ground pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender or food processor. Process until a paste is formed, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too thick. Season to taste with more salt (the mixture should be quite salty). Curry paste can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
For the Fish: In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons (45ml) curry paste with 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, plus lemon juice. Add mint and/or cilantro and whisk to combine. Thin mixture with water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until a chunky but loose texture is achieved. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. This will be the sauce for the cooked fish.
In a large bowl, combine remaining curry paste with remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil. Add fish and turn to coat.
Light 2/3 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to medium-high heat, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate, rubbing several coats of oil onto grates.
Add fish to hot side of grill and let cook with the lid down until first side is well marked and fish releases relatively easily when lifted with a thin metal spatula, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn fish and brush or spoon some of sauce on top. Cook on second side until fish is just cooked through and registers 140°F (60°C) at its coolest point on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Fish should show no resistance when a thin metal skewer is inserted, and the flesh should flake easily. Serve immediately, spooning sauce over fish and spreading it over the surface with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with additional herbs if desired.
Other firm fish fillets, such as salmon, black cod, or grouper, can be used in place of halibut.