Red or Green
West coast Goans love their seafood, and this recipe is inspired by recheado, fish curry made with red chilies, or a green masala. I love green sauces or dressings of all kinds, so I went for green. It reminds me of one of the typical questions you get at a New Mexican restaurant—my new home state— red, green, or Christmas? This question is about the type of salsa you prefer; Christmas means you want both red and green salsa. Green is always my goto choice, but it is not necessarily the milder choice, depending on the chilies' heat level that day. When I think of green sauces, there is salsa verde (Mexico), chimichurri (Argentina), ginger-scallion sauce (China), sauce chien (Guadeloupe), you get the idea. And they all add a vibrant brightness to any food that needs it.
Recheado is stuffed
Recheado is the Portuguese word for stuffed. In Goa, a fish recheado is a dish where a 6 to 8-inch whole fish is stuffed with either red or green recheado paste. My choice for a green masala is not only a personal preference, but it also allows the fish to shine through. Since I don’t often use whole fish, I tested various white fish steaks. Marinate them for an hour or so to allow the flavors to penetrate the flesh. When you see vinegar as an ingredient, you can almost be sure it is a Goan dish. So there is a good dose of vinegar in recheado along with a moderating sprinkle of sugar. I needed to reduce the vinegar to suit my taste, so my recipe is not "authentic." But it is still a wonderfully tangy, flavorful, and easy recipe for weeknight dinners.
Make your tweaks
My other tweak is that I sometimes double the sauce to fish ratio. I found that quickly simmering the leftover marinade into a thickened sauce made an excellent drizzle just before serving. If you like this sauce, you can preserve a quantity of it by cooking it in oil. It keeps in the freezer for a last-minute dinner option for any protein that needs a partner. If you would like instructions, follow the method shown in this Fatimas Cuisine video. I've made this marinade for halibut, barramundi, and shrimp, and can confidently say that it works well with pretty much any seafood.
Meat or vegetables would also be a happy marriage with this green masala. And be sure to adjust the vinegar, salt, and heat levels to your preference. I always call for the lowest spice levels so you can add or subtract to your taste. If you are as fond of green sauces as I am, one of my favorite bloggers, Romain of Glebe Kitchen, just posted an Indian chicken in a green sauce called Hariyali chicken curry. Well, not so green in the end, but full of green ingredients!
See the Notes below before you cook.
Indian Fish Curry (Recheado)
- 1/4 cup onion ~ Sliced
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 cup cilantro ~ Packed, leaves and tender stems
- 2 to 4 small Indian green chilies ~ See Notes below
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 4 whole peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoon garlic ~ Minced, about 6 cloves
- 2 teaspoon ginger ~ Mince, about 1/4-inch ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons vinegar ~ Cider, malt or white
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ See substitutions
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 1/2 pounds fish
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar ~ Optional
- Gather your ingredients.
- In a small sauté pan over medium heat cook the onions until just starting to brown. Allow to cool while you are measuring the rest of the ingredients.
- In a blender (I use a personal blender for this amount) add all the marinade ingredients. Process them into a smooth paste. If you need a bit more liquid add a tablespoon or two water.
- Coat the fish and cook immediately or allow to marinate for 15 minutes up to an hour. The vinegar will cook the fish if left too long.
- In a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the fish and spoon leftover marinade over the top. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Shrimp will only take a few minutes.
- Taste for salt, acid (vinegar), and optional sugar to balance the sauce to your taste. Serve over rice or your favorite grain.
- Seafood: I have made this dish with 6-ounce halibut and barramundi filets, and shrimp. If using fish with skin, remove it.
- More sauce? If you like the idea of having ample sauce to drizzle over the fish before serving, 1 1/2 or double the marinade ingredients. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat until slightly thickened. Drizzle away.
- Chilies: I use small Indian chilies. When seeded and chopped they measure 1/2 teaspoon. Use a hotter chili, and/or keep the seeds in. Use as many chilies to your taste.
- Coating: If you like to coat or bread your fish, use semolina or panko crumbs and coat the seafood before sautéing.
Lamar Freed says
So what happens to the hard cinnamon stick? Is it reduced to smaller than grit size in the blender? How long does that take? I've had poor luck with cinnamon sticks in the past.
Hey Lamar, I use an inexpensive burr coffee grinder by Krups that does a good job of grinding spices. If there is a piece that refuses to be ground I just pitch it and it usually takes me a couple of minutes to process. I've measured a 1/2-inch stick of cinnamon and it yields a scant 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 2 big pinches. So if ground cinnamon works better for you use that. Let me know how you make out. Thanks! Alonna
Love a good fish curry! And the vibrancy of colour in this version is spectacular.
Alonna Smith says
Thanks Romain! Yes, so satisfying and it tastes even better than it looks!