food for the mind

In the Kitchen

Spicy Snapper & Sweet Potato Yellow Curry


  • 1 tbl coconut oil
  • 4 tbl gourmet yellow curry powder, such as Hand Brand
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 can of organic coconut milk
  • 2 tsp corriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 dried chillies
  • 2 snapper fillets
  • basmati rice, to serve


  • Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan, add yellow curry paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add yellow bell pepper and sweet potato.  Cover with curry paste. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk.  Cook for 10 minutes or until just tender.
  • In a small cast iron pan, toast the corriander seeds, fennel seeds and cumin seeds  (about 5 minutes). Once toasted, grind via a motor and pestle or a coffee grinder.  Add to the sweet potato curry mixture. Add turmeric and crushed chili to the curry. Add remainder of coconut milk.
  • In a cast iron pan, add snapper fillets, skin-side down, Cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn and cook for another 3 minutes until just cooked through.
  • To serve, add sweet potato curry sauce to individual small bowls. Layer with snapper. Add basmati rice as desired.

One of my most entertaining cooking companions recently commented that his meals lacked spice. I love spicy food and realized that the last time I cooked with an abundance of spices was in Bali during a ‘raw food’ cooking class that, somehow, digressed into making snapper curry.  That was almost two years ago and I had not applied the knowledge to my New York kitchen. It was time to pull out the recipe and start experimenting with spices again.

The recipe called for making the yellow curry paste from scratch, which I did, but not without error.  It took an extra hour to finally get it right.  I think the Balinese mixed up their teaspoons with tablespoons and the 2 tablespoons of sea salt should have been 2 teaspoons. Short of calling the nearest Thai restaurant to salvage my dinner, I added more and more spices to get it right.  Lucky my dining companion was also running an hour late as he had to make his way through the inebriated Santas that appear the week before Christmas. It was ugly out there.

To save many hours, I’m recommending you buy a gourmet yellow curry paste instead, such as Hand Brand Kang Curry. You’ll have to order this online, so plan ahead to make this meal.  It takes a little longer than salad assembly but it’s a great dish when you want to show off your cooking repertoire.

As for the Santas, they should be eating this too.  The turmeric helps to appease a hangover.


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