A reader and friend named David has an unusual (and charming) way of celebrating his birthday…he gives other people gifts! So I have happily and unexpectedly become the owner of a rocking new piece of All-Clad cookware, an 11-inch stainless casserole dish. Photo above.
I wanted to break this dish in with a special meal, so I decided to recreate the delicious entree I had last week at Betel in the West Village — Spicy Southern Curry with Swordfish, in a lemongrass-infused sauce with kaffir lime leaves and snowpeas. While a wok (which I normally use) is great for fast cooking, a casserole dish is perhaps better for slow poaching, where you cook in the same succulent stew that you’re serving. I figured a casserole dish would be perfect for poaching swordfish, a thick, meaty fish that does well with extra time, becoming more tender and juicier the longer it slowly cooks.
So the next trick was figuring out how to make Betel’s Southern Curry. (For the record, I have no idea what “Southern” stands for…Southern Thailand? Southern Southeast Asia?) One thing I had noticed: while many Thai curries come drenched in coconut milk, this seemed to have only a light dusting. More prominent than the coconut flavor was lemongrass. I noticed the entire bulb of lemongrass was used — something I knew I had to try.
My recipe is below. In a word, and at the risk of sounding immodest, this dish was a triumph. I wouldn’t have undertaken it without my new casserole dish – so thank you again to David for the gift!
Spicy Southern Curry with Swordfish
3/4 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp red curry paste
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
4 tbsp fish stock
1 bulb lemongrass (lower third of stalk)
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
4-6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (reserve
some for garnish)
3 chilis (slit lengthwise, or chopped
for more heat)
thinly sliced orange bell pepper (about one-half of pepper)
2 slices swordfish (about 1 pound)
Begin by cracking the coconut cream. This is harder (but not impossible) to do in a casserole dish than a wok. Essentially reduce coconut cream by about a third, looking for liquid to begin to separate into oil that glistens. At that point, add the curry paste, and fry until fragrant over medium-heat. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce and palm sugar, and mix well. Add fish broth. Mix in the slices of lemongrass; sprinkle in kaffir lime leaves. Stir well, and add chilis. Add lemongrass bulb. When all is heated through, add swordfish. (see picture above). At this point, turn down the heat to a simmer, and place aluminum foil over dish. (You could also move your All-Clad dish to the stove, something it didn’t occur to me to do until later, but rangetop is fine.) The swordfish takes about 15-20 minutes to cook through. When it’s halfway done, flip over and add the snowpeas and the orange bell pepper to the dish. Replace foil, and allow to cook through.
The dish should be extra spicy, and is particularly yummy when served with jasmine rice. Photo below. Enjoy!