Red Snapper with Thai Curry Sauce

Still on a cookbook kick from our success with African peanut stew, we turned to another that we had yet to venture into, Susannah Foo Fresh Inspirations. Having eaten at Ms. Foo's restaurant in Philly, I love how her recipes combine ingredients from different types of cuisine -- they're so unique. The dish we made called for cooking typically Italian ingredients (mushrooms, basil and tomatoes) with a Thai curry paste.

Though we could have easily found these ingredients at our local grocery store, we headed out to an enormous Asian grocery called H-Mart, out by 69th street. We are huge fans of Asian grocery stores, and this one was more than we had hoped for! In addition to a huge prepared foods section featuring enormous vats of kimchee and fresh pasta, the store offered a great variety of fresh sea food and produce. I was especially excited to find Asian sweet potatoes (sweet, but white), which I adore. We picked up some of these potatoes, baby bok choy to stir fry, and the red snapper for our dish. We picked the fish we wanted whole, and watched while they cleaned, skinned and filleted them.

The dish we made involves quite a few steps, but the presentation is great for guests and it tastes yummy. I peeled the tomatoes by first blanching them for 30 seconds then dunking them in cold water, and I recommend getting this done before cooking the fish. Additionally, the recipe we used gave instructions for making a thai curry sauce from scratch, but we modified it by just mixing curry paste with some coconut milk for a similar result. We served it with baby bok choy -- which we cooked with a bit of sesame oil, then let braise with a bit of chicken broth and oyster sauce -- but it will go great with tons of veggies.

4 6-ounce red napper fillets, skin on
2 tbsp vodka
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Spoon vodka, soy sauce and 1 tbsp olive oil into a large zipper bag. Place fillets in bag and refrigerate 1-2 hours, turning occasionally. Drain fillets, pat try and place on a plate. Heat remaining olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk, curry paste and basil in a saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add 2 fillets skin-down and sear for 2 minutes, until skin is golden. Remove and repeat with other 2 fillets, then remove. Add mushrooms to skillet and turn heat to low, cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Place fillets on top of mushrooms, skin-side up. Place tomatoes around fillets and pour curry sauce over fish. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, until fish just cooked through. Plate fish and vegetables.