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[Paleo] Thai-Style Coconut Red Curry Fish Over Rice & Spinach

Being a new, freshly redesign site, I decided that it was best to write my first post over a new, fresh recipe that I came up with the previous evening.  The idea was sparked by a craving for Beef Red Curry, something that I enjoy making and eating, and the need to use some basa catfish that had been airtight in the freezer for some time.  Even though I used basa catfish any type of light fish should hold up to this recipe.  I’m tempted to use tilapia on my next attempt, but you could also use normal catfish or halibut.  The fish is cooked in a coconut red curry sauce, which is then laid on a bed of rice and steamed spinach with the sauce draped across the top and allowed to trickle down into the bedding below the fish.

What I liked most about this recipe is that the fish was light and flaky, for a curry dish there was not much fat, and the dish can easily be paleo by using cauliflower rice over jasmine rice.  The amount of flavor that you are able to pull out of the red curry paste, the coconut milk and the shallots packs quiet the punch.  Being the first time I used a bit more curry paste than I probably should have, I am really hooked on red curry, and the spice factor was up a few notches.  If you do not like a super spicy dish, feel free to cut the curry paste back some.

For this dish, I used the following ingredients.  Feeding four people, I went with eight good filet’s of fish.  Since I have a decent sized pan I was able to do them in two batches of four, but you can adjust your batch size based on your cooking medium.  The key is to not crowed out the pan as you’ll need to be able to flip, and remove, the fish without it falling apart, as well as needing a good spatula that will handle the fish.


  • 8 filet’s of good quality fish (I used basa catfish, but you could use tilapia or halibut)
  • 4 tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 1 cup low-fat Coconut Milk
  • 5 cups chicken stock (may not use all of this)
  • 1 can diced red tomatoes
  • 4 shallots; diced
  • 1 tbsp quality Fish Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Tamari (Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)
  • 1 tbsp Stevia (or pure cane sugar)
  • Sesame Oil (or any good cooking oil)
  • Salt & Pepper; to taste
  • 1 bundle green onions; diced
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 3 bunches of fresh Spinach
  • Jasmine Rice (or Cauliflower Rice)

The first thing you will want to do is get your rice started.  Whether you’re cooking Jasmine Rice or Cauliflower Rice, this process takes some time but is easily one of those set it and forget it.  The verdict is still on the fence for whether rice is considered paleo, and since I was looking for some starch in my meal when I first made this I went with actual rice.

While the rice is cooking it is a good idea to go ahead and cut the first couple of inches off your spinach, rinse it well to remove all the sand and grit, and get it into a large pan with a lid.  A sprinkle of salt and pepper over the top is really all this needs, but you can add a splash of soy sauce, or tamari, to give it some flavor.  Note that this will act as the bedding for your fish, so the sauce at the end will soak down into the spinach.  Put the pan on the stove top, but do not yet start cooking it as you do not want to get ahead of yourself.

For the actual dish you’ll first want to get your diced shallots into a pan with some cooking oil.  I used sesame oil to stick with the Asian theme, but you’re welcome to use any good quality oil or ghee, and I used just enough to ensure that my shallots did not stick to the bottom of the pan (the point of this dish is to be low in fat, but high in flavor).  Cook the shallots over a medium-high heat until translucent.  Once the shallots are cooked, add the curry paste and coat the shallots. Deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, or red wine, and stir.

Once the liquid from the deglazing has cooked down, go ahead and add the can of tomatoes.  You’ll want to add the juice and all, as the liquid will be necessary to keep everything from drying out.  At this point I went ahead and added the fish sauce, since it can be a strong flavor and needs to cook down to mellow it out, and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Once the sauce starts to tighten up add the coconut milk and two cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and move onto the fish.

Before adding the fish to your pan, lightly salt and pepper it on both sides.  Slide each filet into the pan and make sure it is covered with sauce.  The first side cooks about 7 minutes, but you can vary the time to ensure the fish is white and flaky.  Flip the fish and cook for 5 minutes, or until white and flaky.  Remove from the pan and continue to the next batch, adding chicken stock as needed to keep the sauce level up.

Once all of your fish is cooked cover it with foil to lock in the steam and the heat.  Turn on your spinach to start steaming it.  In your sauce add your sugar, tamari, green onions, and cilantro.  Stir to mix and let it simmer.  Keep an eye on your spinach and remove it from the heat just before it finishes wilting, as the spinach will continue to cook. At this time your rice should also be done and can be fluffed with a fork.

After your sauce has simmered for a time, tasting for seasoning, you can remove it from the heat and prepare to plate.  I used large, shallow bowls for my plating.  In the bottom of the dish add small spoon of rice and spread to cover the bottom.  Using tongs take your spinach, ensuring you drip loose any extra moisture, and lay it over the rice.   Carefully lay a filet of fish on the bedding and use a spoon to pour the sauce over the top of the fish.  Serve with a side of rice, if you desire more.

I hope that you enjoy this dish as much as I did.  The curry flavor of the sauce, which is what I was really craving, combined with the fish and light style of cooking, turned out a dish packed with flavor and enjoyable by the summer-prep dieter.  Feel free to comment below your thoughts, and to share your own spin on this recipe.

Bon Appétit!

Thai-style Coconut Red Curry Basa FULLSIZE

So, what do you think ?