Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chowder


Have you ever seen that part of True Lies where Bill Paxton's weenie wanna-be spy character is faced with the real-life-spy Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arnie and his partner are trying to scare the Skittles out of Bill Paxton by waving their guns at him out on the edge of some kind of quarry/dam? And Bill Paxton crumples in a pile of sobs and wets his pants?

Well, that's pretty much what region where I live does whenever faced with the prospect of snow. Even one or two inches is enough to cancel a day of public school, which therefore cancels my daughter's preschool since they tie their cancellations to the public schools' cancellations.

Which means this much snow? (Yea, where there's not enough to even completely cover the blades of grass.) Just enough to cancel school, throw off my workout plans, and provide enough building materials to make Homeslice here:

So: I had haddock fried in oil set for one of last week's lunch menus. If it's just me and the baby, I'm cool with a simple plan like that as I can supplement the baby's meal with a few cubes of cheese and call it a meal. But with my preschooler home due to cancelled school, I felt compelled to do a little something more cozy with the fish in my fridge, and thus was born Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Chowder. Most commercial and restaurant chowders are thickened by adding white flour, but this one is coconut milk based, so the thick creaminess is gluten-free, yay!

Snow Day Coconut Green Curry Chowder
Serves 6
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. mild white fish (in this case it was 2 large fillets of haddock)
2 tbsp. (again!) coconut oil
2 tbsp. green curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand, which is rumored to be on the milder side as green pastes go)
1 onion, sliced thin into 1" pieces
3 small potatoes, cubed into 1/2" pieces (I used organic russet; if you're opposed to potatoes use sweet potatoes or other root veggies)
1/3 cup small pieces of bacon
1 standard-size (14/15 oz. or so) can coconut milk
Optional: 1/2 tsp. palm sugar or 1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses, to further caramelize onions and add depth (this recipe is divided into about 6 servings and as such does not constitute a big blood sugar/insulin surge)
Salt, to taste
Water, to thin as desired

Warm oven to 400 F. Place 2 tbsp. coconut oil into baking pan with garlic powder, powdered ginger, and salt, and melt in oven until the coconut oil is liquid - a few minutes. Remove pan from oven, stir around seasonings until well-combined with liquid warmed coconut oil, and then dip fish fillets in oil mix such that all sides have been coated. Place fillets in the same baking pan with the oil mix and bake for 20 minutes.

While fish is baking, add coconut oil to a medium-size soup pot and heat to high. Add onions (and if desired: palm sugar or molasses) and stir continuously until onions caramelize and become translucent (a few minutes). Add green curry paste and further stir to combine, then add potato cubes. Add bacon pieces and coconut milk and set the soup pot burner down to medium heat, stirring to combine.

Remove fish from the oven. Make sure that it is fully (or very nearly fully) cooked, testing by flaking at the flesh with a fork. If it flakes away easily, use the fork to flake all of the fish into bite-sized pieces, and add fish and oil from pan into chowder on stovetop. (If you want to add the fish skin, that's really up to you. I kind of have an ick factor with fish skin, but that's how I roll.) After about 5 minutes of gentle stirring, taste the chowder, and add water to thin (just a bit at a time) or salt to taste as desired.

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