Massaman fish curry

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Massaman fish curry

Recipe by Paul Mercurio




This curry is so easy and simple to make that I am always amazed at how good it tastes. Of course, the secret is in using great quality ingredients and super-fresh fish. You could make your own curry paste, but nowadays there are some really terrific ones being sold in gourmet grocery stores, farmers‘ markets and supermarkets so you don’t need to if you don’t want to.


  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum (pepper), thinly sliced
  • 1 tin (165 ml/51⁄3 fl oz) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons massaman curry paste*
  • juice of 1/2 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2–3 drops fish sauce
  • 1 white-fleshed fish fillet (about 170g/5.5 oz), such as snapper, flake, ling or flathead
  • 5 snow peas (mangetout), top and tailed, halved
  • 5 sugarsnap peas, top and tailed
  • small zucchini (courgette), cut into batons
  • 1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro) leaves


Heat the peanut oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and fry gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often. 

Add the capsicum and fry for a further 5 minutes. (You don’t want to burn the onions, but I quite like bringing them to the point where they start to go a little brown for added flavour.)

Add the coconut milk and curry paste, stirring well to combine, and bring to a simmer. Next, add the lime juice and fish sauce, stirring to combine, then taste for flavour.

Put the fish fillet in the centre of the pan, scatter the vegetables around the sides, turn the heat down and simmer the sauce gently, covered with a lid.

Turn the fish after 5 minutes and stir the vegetables so they are well coated with the sauce.

Put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn again and check for doneness. The fish should easily flake apart once it is cooked—the total cooking time should be between 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish fillet. Finish with the coriander, and serve with rice.

* Store-bought curry pastes are really convenient and really tasty, however, I would urge you to read the listed ingredients before buying. If the first ingredient is oil then don’t buy it; the first ingredient should be a flavour like onion, chilli or lemongrass. Also, some of these pastes use palm oil which I don’t like for health and ethical reasons. Ultimately, though, the decision is yours.

Recipe and photo from Kitchen Mojo by Paul Mercurio published by Murdoch Books.

Download printable recipe


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