Oven Poached Curry White Fish recipe is super quick and easy. Done, from start to finish in one pan, and so good and flavorful. Poaching the fish in the oven keeps it tender and juicy while cooking it evenly all around.
The Inspiration behind Quick and Easy Oven Poached Curry White Fish
I enjoyed this dish first as a part of a food and wine pairing at St. Francis Winery in Sonoma County. It was a remarkable pairing with their Chardonnay.
Chef made it with Corvian sea bass.
Taking the idea home, I thought it would work equally well with other white fishes, and it does. The sauce is the perfect foil for any neutral white fish.
Oven Poached Curry White Fish takes only about 15 minutes from start to finish and it's all done in ONE pan.
Poaching the fish in the oven keeps it tender and juicy while cooking it evenly all around.
When I made this curry fish at home, my husband remarked how close it was to a curry chicken dish his mom used to make. They would top the curry with toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, green onions, and golden raisins.
I thought this was a fine idea so I served the curry halibut on some plain white rice and added the condiments.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Firm thick white fish: Great choices are halibut, sea bass, cod, grouper, haddock, and snapper (also known as rockfish). Shrimp or scallops would also work. Best not to use an oily fish such as mackerel, or a very thin fish such as trout tilapia.
- Fish Stock: Homemade fish fumet (fish stock) is so easy to make if you can find the bones. If not, use bottled clam juice.
- Heavy Cream: Also called whipping cream. Or use coconut milk for a more coconutty flavor.
- Curry Powder: There are many brands on the market and most have their own unique flavors. Because they can vary so much in flavor, find one you like and try to use it for consistency. I found one in a small spice market that was a lemon curry powder, perfect for oven-poached curry white fish. Another curry powder I enjoy is Rani Mild Curry Powder. Easily found in grocery stores and popular is Madras Curry Powder.
- Optional Toppings: Toasted coconut, chopped cashews or peanuts (I prefer cashews for this dish), sliced green onion, golden raisins (optional optional).
I said this recipe for oven-poached curry white fish was quick and easy, right?
Well, I didn't lie.
- Heat the oven to 350ºF (178ºC).
- Put the fish stock (or clam juice), along with the cream and curry powder into an oven-proof saute or frying pan that has a lid, bring to a simmer.
- After making sure all the bones and skin have been removed, salt and pepper the white fish. Set into the simmering curry sauce, cover and place in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until cooked.
- Remove the fish to a platter, and tent to keep warm. Bring the sauce to a simmer, and if desired, thicken it with a bit of cornstarch mixed with water.
- Place the fish on warm plates, or deep wide bowls, and top with the sauce and optional condiments of choice.
Most chefs agree the best temperature is between 350ºF (176ºC) and 400ºF (204ºC) - this is considered a moderately hot oven.
The advantage to poaching in the oven is the all-around even heat. Stovetop cooking heats from the bottom only and may cause scorching and uneven doneness.
For this recipe, use a cover to protect the delicate fish and liquid and create steam to help finish the fish.
Many recipes will say "when the fish flakes easily with a fork". I find that to be overdone. For me, when the flesh of the fish is easily pierced with the tip of a knife, it's done. You should feel little or no resistance. Do remember, the fish will continue to cook while it rests and after the hot sauce is poured over the top. Best to start with a bit undercooked than overcooked.
What do I serve with oven-poached curry fish?
Because the sauce is so flavorful, I like to serve it with plain steamed white or brown rice. I like using the double steam method for cooking brown rice as it gives a much more tender result.
You could also serve this with couscous.
I chose to serve with some tender sliced carrots that I sauteed in butter with a bit of diced red onion and fresh dill.
Carrots with Snow Peas and Celery would also work.
The creamy curry sauce pairs perfectly with a softer style of chardonnay. Look for one that has gone through malolactic fermentation with a light oak treatment. You might also enjoy a Viognier or Semillon.
Quick and Easy Oven Poached Curry White Fish
- 1 pound firm white fish sea bass, halibut or another firm thick white fish, cut into 4 ounce portions (skin and bones removed please)
- 1 ½ cups Lindy's Fumet (fish stock) or, clam juice
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fine curry powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water (to thicken the sauce, optional, but I like a nice thick sauce)
- Optional toppers optional yes, but good none the less
- toasted coconut
- chopped peanuts or cashews
- thinly sliced green onion tops
- golden raisins
- Heat oven to 350º F. (176ºC)
- Place the fish stock, cream, and curry into an ovenproof saute pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Season the fish with salt and pepper (white pepper works well here) and place in the curry mixture, turning to cover the fish with sauce. Cover the pan and pop it into the oven. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes (depending on the thickness of fish) or until JUST cooked through. Do NOT overcook the fish.
- Remove fish, cover lightly with foil. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat and either allow to reduce slightly or add your cornstarch slush. Stir until thickened. Stir in lemon juice.
- Place the fish on top of plain boiled or steamed white rice. Spoon the sauce over and sprinkle with condiments of choice.