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This is one of the most popular dishes served in Kerala. With fresh fish from the Arabian Sea and backwaters estuaries, coconut from the trees that shade the land and the beauty of subtle spicing, it is easy to see why people fall in love at first bite.

Every cook has their own version of Fish Molee. Most contain a pinch of turmeric, giving the dish a golden hew. Some chefs will wrap the fish in banana leaves and steam it for another flavour profile. As with all her cooking Nimmy Paul’s version is elegant in its simplicity – the true sign of mastery.

You may multiply the fish from four ounces to eight ounces (four servings) using the same amounts of spices and coconut milk as in this recipe.

Enjoy it garnished with the reserved tomatoes and enjoy with appams (fermented rice-dal crepes) or rice.


Fish Molee Recipe

Yields
2 Servings

Ingredients

1 tbsp ghee
1 cinnamon bark (1-inch piece)
2 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods, cracked
½ tsp whole white pepper
½ tsp whole black pepper
1 red onion, cut in crosswise rings
1 tbsp ginger, julienned
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 long green chili, slit lengthwise but left intact
1 ½ tsp salt
4 oz firm white fish fillets (kingfish, sablefish, ling cod or halibut)
1 cup coconut milk (second press if you are making your own)
3 tbsp coconut cream (first press if you are making your own)


Method

  1. Melt the ghee in a wok on medium heat and add the whole cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and white and black pepper and then stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, chili and curry leaves straight away.
  2. Add the salt and stir until the onions are softened and starting to turn translucent (don’t let them brown).
  3. Make a well in the center and add the fish fillets, then cover them with the vegetables. Add the tomato rounds on one side in the pan.
  4. Cover and let the steam from the vegetables cook the fish for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.
    Tip: the rule of thumb for cooking fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
  5. Add the coconut milk. Remove the tomatoes and reserve them for the garnish. Simmer the fish, vegetables and coconut milk for 5 to 10 minutes to meld the flavours. Add the coconut cream just before serving to reconstitute the coconut milk and intensify the flavour.

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