Entries in tinned fish curry (1)

Thursday
Sep202012

Tinned Mackerel Curry 

One of my all time favorite dishes growing up was tinned mackerel curry. My parents and grandparents were born and raised in the Fiji Islands where tinned mackerel (or tinned fish as we called it) is an island staple. It comes fully cooked similar to canned tuna or sardines. You can eat it as is but it's really good simply sauteed with onions, garlic and cumin powder for a quick and easy meal. I could always tell my mother was pressed for time or had an especially harrowing day when we had this version of tinned mackerel and rice for dinner. A more elaborate preparation is curried with potatoes as featured in this recipe. When I'm feeling homesick or when I miss my family, I'll whip up a pot of mackerel curry and I'm immediately transported back to my childhood dinner table. This is truly my definition of comfort food. Tinned mackerel is not the easiest thing to find but you can sometimes get it at Asian grocery stores in the canned fish aisle (my sources are Fresh Farms and the Super H Mart in Niles). Mackerel is packed by companies in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries but my favorite brand is 777 or Fiji Ocean from the Fiji Islands. You can find it in California where there are large populations of Fijian-Indians such as the Bay Area, Artesia or Monterey. My mother sends me boxes of tinned mackerel because she knows how much I love it. What can I say? Some people get socks or candy in their care packages, I get canned fish and I couldn't be happier.


1 Tinned Mackerel packed in natural oil (don't get the kind in tomato sauce)
1 cup sliced onions
2 Russet Potatoes (peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes)
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 - 3 inch piece of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 medium tomato (chopped)
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 jalapeno or 2 Serrano chili peppers (or less to suit your taste)
4 tablespoons curry powder (you can make your own)
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (toast & grind whole seeds for best flavor)
Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Place garlic, ginger, salt & chili peppers into a food processor or use a mortar and pestle. Pulse or pound until smooth. Add the curry powder, tumeric, cumin powder and a splash of water and mix into a paste.

Heat oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Lower heat to medium and add onions and cook until slightly translucent, approx. 5-7 minutes. Add curry paste and sautee for 1 minute. Add potatoes and chopped tomato and and toss until all coated with the curry paste and cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes (add small amounts of water if it starts to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan). Lower the heat to medium, add enough water to cover the potatoes and simmer with the lid slightly ajar. In the meantime, drain and clean the mackerel, remove the bones but you can keep the skin. When the potatoes are cooked half way through, add the mackerel to the pot and incorporate into the mixture taking care not to break up the pieces of the fish (this would drive my mother crazy when I did this). Cook potato and fish mixture over low-medium heat without the lid until the liquid has reduced by half (you want a thick sauce and not soup) and potatoes are fully cooked and soft. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over basmati rice or with roti.