Half an hour later, a pungent aroma rises from the kitchen, just beyond the porch, where the bucket remains. (I’ll wash that out tomorrow.)
This dish was designed for opakapaka—the pink snapper. It’s a Thai dish and an acquired taste. Pretty darn hot. Works nicely with bluegills, which are rolled in tapioca starch and deep fried while you prepare the sauce in a skillet. Heat the skillet with three tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter, Indian style), and add 3 tablespoons of red curry paste. Red curry paste is readily available in grocery stores around here, so most people can probably find it. We make our own curries and curry pastes, and you can find many recipes for those on the net.
Stir fry the curry paste for about 3 minutes at medium high and add a cup of coconut milk. Mix thoroughly, add a couple tablespoons of Vietnamese fish sauce, stir, and turn the heat down. Simmer the sauce gently for 3 minutes or so while chopping a bed of cabbage. Spread it on a serving platter and place the fried bluegills on top. Add 20 leaves of fresh Thai basil to the sauce. If you can’t find one of the many varieties of Thai basil, sweet basil will do (but it’s not as good!).
Stir the basil into the sauce for only a minute, and pour the sauce over the fish. Including the time it takes to clean the gills, this dish takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and cook— if you have some homemade ghee in the fridge and a can or jar of curry paste handy. Perfect for the slippery midnight bluegill chef who comes home late, smelling fishy. Just announce beforehand that dinner’s on you and nobody should worry until 6 pm.