I’ve made two versions of this dish recently. One for a supper club and another for a pop up at The Fat Loaf. I love it as a dish as it avoids some of the pitfalls of the “traditional British curry” in that the sauce and fish are not overcooked together resulting in a uniform gloop, instead the fish and sauce are cooked separately (as would happen in most classical recipes) to allow them both to be served when they’re spot on.
I love coley, it’s been (wrongly) seen as a poor man’s cod for far too long. It’s a great fish, easy to cook with and gives fantastic results. The fact that it’s about half the price of over-fished cod is just another benefit. A homemade fish finger butty made with coley is a thing of beauty.
- First up, line an oven tray with foil. Arrange your skinless coley pieces on it, season with salt and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours. If you want you could sprinkle a little curry powder over the fish but I prefer it without to get the contrast of the lovely sweet fish and the spicy sauce.
- Curry sauce (this can be made before but I like to do it on the day).
- Take some curry paste, you can either buy one, which isn’t too bad an idea – there are some great ones out there nowadays, or make your own. I find curry spicing to be such a personal matter of taste once you find one you like as that’ll serve you better than my recommendation.
- Heat up a sauce pan and fry two tablespoons of paste per portion, keep it moving about in the pan or it’ll stick & burn.
- Once it’s cooked out add coconut milk and chicken stock in a 50-50 split, realistically you’re going to open a can of the milk so that much stock as well.
- Bring to a boil and cook down until you’re happy with the taste and consistency.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, take the fish out of the fridge and pour a little oil over the top of the pieces without drowning it in the stuff.
- Bake the fish for 6-9 minutes depending on its thickness and your oven. How far done you take it is a matter of personal taste but I like it only just cooked through if not slightly under done. While this is happening make sure the sauce is hot.
- I like to present this with the sauce at the bottom of the bowl with the fish on top.
This makes a great starter, as it’s very easy to cook to order while you’re talking to your guests. If you’d like to make it more substantial then the picture used shows it with cauliflower puree on top and some mussels cooked in the curry sauce around, both of which bring additional elements to the dish.