Aromatic Thai Yellow Fish Curry

Aromatic Thai Yellow Fish Curry

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I first tried Thai yellow curry with chicken as a food obsessed kid at a restaurant with my parents, and I was blown away by complex yet light flavours that I’d never encountered before. After precociously quizzing the waiter for the ingredients, I returned to my mom’s kitchen and set about trying to recreate the taste sensation I’d just experienced, without great success (there wasn’t a lot of tamarind to be found in the supermarkets in 1988). Several dubious curry-esque dishes followed. Many years and developments in supermarkets since, I’ve arrived at the below recipe, and I think it’s pretty spot on.

Happily, these aromatics work equally well with fish or vegetables as the main event – so you can enjoy this dish with friends of several culinary persuasions… See below for advice on adaptationsWith all the rain and random hailstones over the last couple of days, I woke up to find a confused looking seagull on my North London windowsill. I took the hint, this Thai yellow curry would be a fishy one! 

Thai curries all start with making a paste, each curry paste has a unique and distinct flavour; eg green curries are coriander based while yellow curries are lemongrass and turmeric. The paste starts with these main flavours, then “spiked” with additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic and tamarind. Like most south East Asian cuisines these pastes are the perfect balance of sweet, spice and acid.

I’ve tried quite a few different versions of this recipe and while some have worked better with fish while others complement chicken; the version I give below is the most flexible and works with everything; fish, chicken or vegetables.

Helpful Hints

I’ve kept this recipe relatively mild so that appeals to everyone, but if you prefer to add a little more heat replace the green chilli in the paste with a couple of birds eye chilies.

Also, don’t be afraid to add a little water to help the blender turn everything into a paste as it will evaporate when you fry the paste, and it helps to bind the ingredients.

Adapt this recipe to:

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry

To turn it to a chicken curry, preferably using bone-in skin-on chicken thighs. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the pot on medium heat until hot, add the oil and chicken skin side down. Cook for about five minutes until the skin is crispy, turn and cook for another 2 minutes then set aside.

Add the paste, cook for about 5 minutes, add the coconut milk and return the chicken and cook on a gentle heat for about 35-40 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through then add the string beans an cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for five minutes.

Aromatic Thai Yellow Fish Curry

This Thai yellow fish curry is a wonderfully light dish that will titillate all your senses.

  • Prep Time15 min
  • Cook Time25 min
  • Total Time40 min
  • Serving Size4
  • Cuisine
  • Course
    • Main Course
  • Suitable for Diet
    • Pescatarian


The Curry Paste

  • 1 -2 chopped shallots (depending on size)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chillies, seeds removed
  • 1 thumb sized chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 fresh lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind (jar not paste)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt

The Curry

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1kg cod loin cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 250g string beans


  1. Put all the ingredients for the paste into a blender and blend into a paste.
  2. Heat a pot on medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the paste and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Add the string beans, cook for one minute then add the fish and lime leaves and cook for further 7-8 minutes. Remove from the heat (the fish will finish cooking in the residual heat )
  5. Serve with rice (preferably jasmine rice) .

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