FreshTartSteph Recipe: Quick Coconut Curry with Halibut & Broccoli

Here’s a flash from the past: Do you remember the coconut pasta at Sidney’s restaurants, circa 1995? It was the first coconut-milk dish I’d ever tried and it was tasty, if inauthentic. It got me happily experimenting at home and concluding that coconut milk has magical properties. Creamy, luscious, and ridiculously easy to cook with, it can transform a head of broccoli into the most heavenly thing you’ve eaten in months. And what it does to a filet of halibut should be illegal. Seriously.

Yes, you could pick up a Thai-style curry anytime you like from any number of places around town. But you can also pull this delicious little number together in about 20 minutes, with minimal prep, and it will be loaded with as many bites of fish and vegetables as your heart desires.

I’ve pared this recipe down to the essentials, with a few shortcuts that make it accessible for a weeknight din. You can adapt this basic recipe in as many ways as you can imagine—try shrimp, chicken, or tofu for the halibut. Experiment with a rainbow of vegetables. It’s all good.

Quick Coconut Curry with Halibut & Broccoli

Serves 4

Photo by Stephanie Meyer

If the list of ingredients looks long, notice that many of the items are quickly-measured seasonings. Measure everything out in advance and you’ll whip through pulling this dish together. 

1 can coconut milk (not the light version, and not pre-emulsified; Taste of Thai brand works well)
1 large, ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, cut into matchstick pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp. green Thai curry paste (available in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores)
1 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or more to taste)
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (or more to taste)
2 c. broccoli florets
12 oz. halibut, cut into 1-inch cubes
juice of 1 lime (or more to taste)
3 whole scallions, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Hot cooked rice (jasmine rice is delicious, but any rice works)

Open can of coconut milk with a can opener and skim the thick, white coconut fat off the top and put into a Dutch oven. Heat pan over medium-high heat until coconut oil is melted and hot, then stir in tomato, garlic, and red pepper until softened and tomato is breaking down a bit—about 4 minutes. Stir in curry paste and curry powder and saute for a couple of minutes until fragrant.

Stir in the remaining coconut milk, brown sugar, and fish sauce, and bring to a simmer. Add broccoli florets and simmer for two minutes, until just softening, then stir in halibut cubes. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until fish is just cooked through. Add lime juice, scallions, and fresh basil and taste. Add a bit more fish sauce (for saltiness), lime juice, or brown sugar as needed. Serve over hot rice.