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Old 10-17-2007, 09:36 PM   #1
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Question ISO Fish that doesn't turn to mush

I have gone reading threads back to the good ol' 05's in DC and found lots of good recipes that made me hungry in regards to seafood but my original question when i first started out on my fish thread adventure was:

"What is a good fish to use in a curry/gravy based dish that doesn't fall apart after 2 minutes. Something that holds itself and doesn't ended up looking like imitation mashed potatoes?"

I've tried a few different fish, found one and can't remember its name because it was a while ago and I forgot what it was called.

thanks :)


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Old 10-17-2007, 09:42 PM   #2
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Truly, I can't help you, Rom. I live in an area where seafood of almost any kind is difficult to find, unless frozen, and that's limited.

Certainly, someone will come along and give you a hand.
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:03 PM   #3
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Was it swordfish? I think swordfish is known to be a firm fish.
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:13 PM   #4
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Aera,

How are you cooking the fish? Are you basting it in the sauce or dry cooking it and then adding the sauce? for the former I would recommend Swordfish, Sea Bass, or Tuna. Stay away from Tilapia or other thin filleted fish. The thickness really counts when cooking in a sauce. I hope this helps
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:16 PM   #5
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rock fish, sword fish, snapper, halibut, cod?
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:07 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replys guys :)
I was cooking it in like a curry, so making the gravy/curry then putting/emersing the fish in it.
I bought some Nile Perch the other day was cooking it in the griller and also the fry pan - it was very thick and noticed it really turned crumbly/just fell apart pretty fast. :(

I think we didn't like the flavour of Tilapia much, although I might be confused with Ling fillets (i forgot to write down the yuk one, when it happy to disgrace itself on my tastebuds) you know what I think it might have been Ling, will have to try Tilapia again, Snapper might be something else to try. Swordfish, trying to recall if I see that when i go shopping. I used Basa fillets a few times, then i had to go and watch a doco on them..haven't bought it since :S (shouldn't have watched the doco lol)

Katie E, I live next to the sea and the harbour where all the fishing boats are as well so seafood not too hard to come by, different types are a different story though - we do get a fair bit of imported stuff too though
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:10 PM   #7
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Sorry this is short, but I’m tired. Fish is delicate. Back off your cooking time and you’ll see a difference. Fish is fast. Very. Unless it’s a soup or Gumbo, have all ingredients ready to go first then add the fish for a couple minutes at the end. Fish is delicate so do it last.
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:42 AM   #8
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Two potential problems here:

first, like keltin said, make sure you're not overcooking it, but also make sure your heat isn't too high. For that matter, depending on the cooking method, make sure your heat isn't too low either.

The other problem might be if you're buying frozen fish, previously forzen fish, or just terrible quality fish.I'm about as landlocked as can be, so I have to be VERY discriminating when I purchase fish.

Final tip, sounds like you're mostly going for leaner whitefish. Whitefish (fish with white flesh) are almost always very lean, and there are some other varieties of fish that are also very lean. While they're very healthy for you, oils and fats in fish are what help hold them together during the cooking process. This is why tuna or salmon, and even swordfish will always hold up better than walleye or perch.
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:54 AM   #9
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Regardless of what kind of fish you use, you shouldn't be braising it in the sauce anyway. Cook it seperately, make a flavorful sauce, and serve the fish along with the sauce together at the end.
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Old 10-18-2007, 03:32 AM   #10
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Fresh Tuna
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Old 10-18-2007, 12:45 PM   #11
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Ironchef - with fish curries - particularly Indian curries - the fish is always cooked (braised or baked) IN the curry sauce. That's sort of the point of it. The fish flavors the curry & vice versa. Cooking the fish separately & then just serving it in/with the sauce would not only not be worth the effort, but definitely isn't authentic.

When I'm making a fish curry, I try to use a THICK filet of cod or monkfish, cut into large pieces. Although, if cooked carefully & gently, thinner white filets like orange roughy, tilapia, or catfish can also be used. Neither tuna nor swordfish are frequently used for curries, but hey - no reason not to experiment.

I would steer clear of really delicate fish like flounder/sole or the oilier/fatter types of fish like bluefish, mackerel, salmon. The delicate ones will definitely fall apart, & the fattier types - unless the particular recipe calls for them - can impart a strong flavor that can overshadow the rest of the ingredients.

I make fish curries all the time, & definitely advise you to keep experimenting. It's a lot of fun, especially when you find a fish/sauce combo you like.
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:07 PM   #12
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We had wahoo recently, which was quite firm and about 1 1/2 inches thick, so I think that would work, too, if you can find it. Not sure how prevalent it is.

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Old 10-18-2007, 01:08 PM   #13
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All flaky fish will fall apart when subjected to long cooking. Fish, per se, really doesn't do well in a traditional curry setting. and ALL seafood becomes either mushy or rubbery when overcooked.

Swordfish, Monkfish, tuna, shark, might have enough texture to take a braise, but I wouldn't risk it. All of them have delicate flavors that are going to be overtaken by curry.
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Old 10-18-2007, 01:20 PM   #14
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I'm surprised you did not like tilapia. By it self it is pretty tasteless, but will take up any flavor you add to it. That is exactly why I like tilapia. It doesn’t interfere with the flavor you are trying to achieve. Otherwise you’ve had some good advises above.
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Old 10-18-2007, 02:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
All flaky fish will fall apart when subjected to long cooking. Fish, per se, really doesn't do well in a traditional curry setting. and ALL seafood becomes either mushy or rubbery when overcooked.

Swordfish, Monkfish, tuna, shark, might have enough texture to take a braise, but I wouldn't risk it. All of them have delicate flavors that are going to be overtaken by curry.
My favorite local Thai restaurant has a wonderful seafood curry with shrimp, scallops, fish and squid in it. A friend of mine gets it all the time and it's never been tough or mushy. As Breezy said, it can be done - you just need to find the right ingredients.
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Old 10-18-2007, 02:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
My favorite local Thai restaurant has a wonderful seafood curry with shrimp, scallops, fish and squid in it. A friend of mine gets it all the time and it's never been tough or mushy. As Breezy said, it can be done - you just need to find the right ingredients.
The seafood in Thai curries are not cooked for longer than 2-3 minutes. The fish may be cooked for 4-5 minutes but that's usually about it. Chef June was talking about long cooking.

In the majority of curry recipes that I've seen, the fish is either seared and then added to the sauce during the final stages of cooking, or it is added to the sauce and simmered for 6-8 minutes and then served immediately. Any longer than that and most fish proteins will break down and you end up with overcooked fish.
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Old 10-18-2007, 03:28 PM   #17
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Asian Style Fish Curry


Ingredients:
  • 6 Fish fillets (red snapper, halibut, cod, or tilapia)
  • 1 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder (Red if available, but yellow will suffice)
  • 2 Tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Patis (fish sauce)
  • 4 jalapenos (or other chili peppers), minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp bagaong (shrimp or fish paste)
  • 2 Tbs Canola or peanut oil
Preparation:

Marinate the fish fillets in 1/2 cup coconut milk, scallions, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 tablespoons Splenda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon fish sauce for 15 to 30 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, make a paste with the jalapenos, onion, garlic, 1/2 the lime juice, and the fish paste while the fish is marinating.

In a frying pan, heat one or two tablespoons oil, and cook the paste until softened and heated through. Add the marinated fish and cook 2 minutes on each side. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk, and the rest of the lime juice, bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce is the desired thickness. Remove fish to serving platter, put sauce in a bowl or gravy boat.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:31 PM   #18
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I have a friend from Nepal and his wife makes a fantastic curry fish dish - and she used tilapia. I don't have the recipe - but I did watch what she did as Madon and I sat there talking. It was basically like this:

She made the sauce in a skillet and then removed it from the heat and turned the burner down to as low as she could get it ... she then cut the tilapia fillets into pieces about 4-inches wide ... after about 5 minutes she put the fish into the pan and spooned some sauce over it, covered it, put it back on the burner ... in 3-5 minutes it was done. This was served over rice. The fish was still firm, not mushy or falling apart ...

I'm guessing that maybe the fish isn't to blame ... the problem is that it was just overcooked? Wouldn't have any way of guessing without knowing how you cooked it.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
I have a friend from Nepal and his wife makes a fantastic curry fish dish - and she used tilapia. I don't have the recipe - but I did watch what she did as Madon and I sat there talking. It was basically like this:

She made the sauce in a skillet and then removed it from the heat and turned the burner down to as low as she could get it ... she then cut the tilapia fillets into pieces about 4-inches wide ... after about 5 minutes she put the fish into the pan and spooned some sauce over it, covered it, put it back on the burner ... in 3-5 minutes it was done. This was served over rice. The fish was still firm, not mushy or falling apart ...

I'm guessing that maybe the fish isn't to blame ... the problem is that it was just overcooked? Wouldn't have any way of guessing without knowing how you cooked it.
Michael, that is the only way, imho to do fish curry. If you try to cook the fish in the curry, it will turn to mush, or to rubber bands, depending upon what fish you are using. It is no way like cooking lamb or goat or other meat that you can "simmer until tender."
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Old 10-19-2007, 01:12 AM   #20
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Am I the only one not turned on by the idea of fish curry? Seems to me that the curry would really overpower the fish, since curry is usually so assertive.
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