This is risotto meets tropical heat. It has the lovely comforting feel of a risotto, but the coconut milk and spices keep it nice and light. The fish is marinated in lime juice and added right at the end so is cooked only lightly. I’ve tweaked Lois’ recipe slightly by adding fresh coriander and extra lime at the end.
A sad reminder that this recipe was published in the 1980s is the fish Lois suggests to use; orange roughy is now at the very bottom of the Forest & Bird Best Fish Guide. Choose a firm-fleshed fish with a bit of flavour as there is lots going on in this dish for it to compete with; I used warehou.
Caribbean pilau (Good Food, p. 26)
500gm firm-fleshed fresh fish
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh green or red chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you want to ease the spiciness)
3 teaspoons toasted coriander seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 cups long grain rice (I used basmati)
2 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sliced spring onions, chopped fresh coriander, and wedges of lime to finish
Cut the fish into 2cm cubes, squeeze over lime juice and set aside in fridge.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan (for which you have a lid) and add the onions, red pepper, garlic and chilli and sauté for a few minutes but do not brown. Stir in the spices and bay leaf and cook for another couple of minutes. Add rice and stir until grains are incorporated with the other ingredients.
Pour in the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and simmer gently until rice is almost cooked. Keep checking it and if you find that the liquid has evaporated but the rice isn’t cooked yet, add a half cup of water. Do this as many times as you need to.
Once the rice is almost cooked but still has a little bite to it, add the fish and juices and cover and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the spring onion and chopped coriander and serve with a wedge of lime on the side for squeezing. Good served with some lightly steamed broccoli or green beans.