No, I didn’t accidentally type the word ‘orange’ twice: I really did make an orange orange curry. The thing is this: when reading about Thai curries, I’ve often come across recipes for orange curry or even sour orange curry. Perhaps because of my familiarity with Latin American cooking, the first time I read this, I thought it was a curry made with sour oranges. Makes sense, right? But of course, it’s not. Orange curry is orange the way red curry is red and green curry is green. It’s not connected to fruit at all. But that first misreading stuck in my head and when I was shopping in a fairly crappy supermarket the other day and had few options for fresh ingredients, I thought hey, why not make a Thai fish curry with actual oranges? Thus was born the idea for the orange orange curry.
I’m not sure how much Thais cook with oranges. I suspect not so much, or at least I haven’t come across any orangey recipes so far. However, they do have oranges in Thailand so perhaps its not so fusion-y a concept. It comes out to a somewhat different dish than a traditional orange curry, but Mr Lemur thought it was delicious. I have a documented love of all things citrus, so I may be biased, but I thought it was a gratifyingly successful experiment.
So what did I do? Well, I kept some of the basics of the orange curry, though I messed around with the traditional curry paste a bit. I skipped the tamarind since I wanted to use citrus for sour notes. I used fresh chilies instead of dried because I wanted brighter flavours to go with the citrus. I used a fair amount of galangal and ginger, mostly (I’m not going to lie) because I had them fresh and it seemed like a good idea. However, I kept the light broth of tomatoes and fish stock, adding a strong burst of orange and lime flavour. We’re trying to eat more fish, too, and the sparky flavours of chili, citrus and ginger were a lovely match for trout and shrimp.
Orange orange fish curry
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 long red chilies, chopped
- 5 stalks of lemongrass, tender parts
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp
- 2 inches ginger, chopped
- 2 inches galangal, chopped
- 2 fillets of trout
- 6 shrimp
- a glug of fish sauce
- 1-2 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 cups fish stock or water
- 1 big tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
- 1 orange
- 1 lime
- a big handful of green beans or longbeans
- small bunch of cilantro
- 1 tbsp oil for cooking
First make the curry paste: either pound the dried shrimp in a mortar and pestle or in a mini-prep until fluffy. Next add the ginger, galangal, chilies, lemongrass, shallots and garlic and pound into a paste. Fry the paste in a little oil in a heavy pot for a few minutes, until the garlic and shallots don’t smell raw anymore.
Add the fish stock, a glug of fish sauce and a tbsp of the sugar. (You can taste it later for saltiness and sweetness – I ended up putting in a bunch more sugar.) Add the tomatoes, green beans and the juice of half the orange and cook for 5 minutes. Next add the fish – the idea is to poach the fish in the broth so you need to have enough broth to just about cover the fish and keep it on a gentle simmer.
When you’re almost ready to serve, add the shrimp and let them cook for a minute or so till pink. Finally, add in the other half of the orange juice and the juice of the lime. Top with cilantro.
Serves 2, generously.