Here in BC we are in the middle of winter. Thankfully though, we are past the winter solstice and ever so slowly the days are lengthening. There is still very little growing in our gardens right now but what we lack in locally grown veggies is made up for in delicious fresh seafood.
Many types of seafood are in season and even at their best in the cold winter months and one of my favourite fish to buy for weeknight meals is “Snapper”. Not a true red snapper, this fish is a type of rock cod caught in a sustainable fishery in the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Canada. Snapper is fished regularly through the winter making it readily available and much less expensive that halibut.
Snapper has nice, firm flesh and a mild flavour similar to ling cod and because it has more natural oil than halibut it won’t dry out as easily. I use it frequently in fish tacos, baked fish n’ chips and soups.
With the weather cold, I’m gravitating to warm spices and comforting soups. This recipe starts with a versatile and easy homemade curry paste and is finished with coconut milk, stock and fish sauce for authentic south Asian flavour. The snapper is added minutes before serving and poured over a bowl of rice noodles and vegetable garnishes. Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list, it all goes in the blender and is done in minutes and the ingredients are easy to find at most grocery stores. Thick and rich, full of bright spice and herbal aromas, this soup is a comforting and satisfying meal in a bowl.
BC Snapper Laksa
Made from scratch, the curry paste for this soup is quick and delicious and can be made ahead up to 3 days (or even longer if frozen).
Get creative with the garnishes! Almost any vegetables sliced thin are great-julienned cucumber or carrot, mint or basil leaves, crushed peanuts or cashews, broccoli, purple cabbage or precooked squash.
- 1/2 c Cashews Or other soft nut like macadamias
- 1 small Shallot About 2-3 tbsp
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 stalk Lemongrass, white part only sliced into small rounds
- 1-3 Thai Red Chilis Depending on heat level desired
- 1 Bunch Cilantro Stems (Save The Leafy Tops For Garnish)
- 1 1″ piece Ginger, Peeled And Grated
- 1 1″ piece Turmeric, Peeled And Grated You can substitute 1 tsp dry ground turmeric if desired
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 2 tbsp Coconut Sugar Or regular granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 can Coconut Milk Regular, 400 ml
- 2 c Chicken Stock
- 1 c Water
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 lb Fresh Snapper, Cut Into 2″ Pieces, Any Bones Removed Or other firm fleshed Oceanwise cod
- 2 Baby Bok Choy, Cut In Half Lengthwise Or other asian green
Garnishes to serve
- 300 grams Rice Noodles, Prepared According To Package
- 1 c Bean Sprouts
- Leftover Cilantro Leaves
- 1 Lime, Cut Into 4 Wedges
For the paste, first process the cashews very finely in a food processor (or high powered blender). The smaller they are the better as this will help add “thickness” or body to the soup. Once chopped, add garlic, lemongrass, shallot, chilis, and cilantro stalks and process until they are a coarse paste then add remaining ingredients and process again until smoothly combined. (It should be a rough paste)
Heat a soup pot on medium-low heat, add oil and then saute laksa paste (reserve 1 tbsp to stir in at end) until it turns slightly darker and cooks through. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
Add coconut milk and stir until well combined, add stock, water, fish sauce and remaining tbsp of Laksa paste and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt or fish sauce as desired.
Meanwhile fill 4 large soup bowls about 1/2 full with prepared rice noodles and set aside.
Add fish and simmer until just cooked, approximately 3-5 minutes. 1 minute before it is finished, add in the bok choy and let cook just until wilted.
Spoon fish, broth and bok choy over noodles in bowls and garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro and lime wedges. Bring a jar of sambal oelek to the table so everyone can season to taste and enjoy 🙂