This choo chee fish curry is fragrant, creamy, and perfect for a weeknight fish recipe. It’s made using a base of choo chee paste, a lightly spicy curry paste with a subtle sweetness.
What is choo chee curry?
Also spelled as chu chee or kaeng choo chee, this curry shares many similarities with Thai red curry. The main difference is that choo chee tends to be more heavily scented with makrut lime leaves. It’s also a bit creamier and a bit sweeter.
It also differs a bit in the serving recommendations. Red curry can be (and is) served with a variety of proteins, like chicken, pork, or beef. Choo chee is often served with fish. It’s commonly prepared with salmon, mackerel, or scallops, but really, almost any variety of fish works with this fragrant curry. I’ve seen choo chee recipes where the fish is swapped with chicken or tofu, so don’t let tradition stop you from making protein substitutions.
Several websites I’ve read note that the name likely originated from the hissing, sizzling sounds made while frying the paste in coconut cream.
How to make choo chee fish curry
The foundation of this curry is the choo chee curry paste. You can certainly make your own paste at home, and Suwanee’s choo chee curry paste recipe would be a great place to start. For a quick weeknight dinner, I reach for Maesri curry pastes, and I really love the choo chee paste. Some weekend, I want to make my own curry paste from scratch, and I will definitely be following the recipe I linked above.
If neither of those options works for you, use your favorite red curry paste and just add a little extra brown sugar or coconut sugar to it.
What you need
- Choo chee curry paste: If you don’t have this, use your favorite red curry paste instead and add a pinch of sugar.
- Vegetables and aromatics: I make this with some extra veggies, but that is totally optional. I use carrots, sliced bell pepper, scallions, and shallots. I’ve seen some choo chee variations that add Chinese broccoli or baby corn too.
- Coconut milk: I use a 14.5-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk. I also thin it out with a little water because I like it a little thinner. If you want to stay true to the classic choo chee, use a scant amount of water just as needed.
- Fish sauce: I follow the directions from the back of the can and add some fish sauce at the end of cooking.
- Fish: I use mahi mahi filets, but try it with salmon, shrimp, cod, or squid.
- Garnishes: I garnish with minced scallion greens, cilantro, lime wedges, and Thai basil.
How to make it
- Step 1: Fry the shallot and scallion whites until just soft. Add the curry paste and cook for 2–3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk and continue frying until thick and sizzling.
- Step 2: Add the water and your vegetables of choice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender.
- Step 3: Cook the fish. Return the curry to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and immediately add the fish. Cover and simmer for 5–8 minutes until the fish is cooked through. For mahi mahi, I cooked it until it reached 145ºF.
- Step 4: Serve it up! Serve it with cooked white rice and your favorite garnishes. I served mine with rice noodles, and we loved it.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I did! If you make it, please drop a comment below and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!
Choo Chee Fish Curry
- Large pot
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 5 scallions, trimmed and minced; white and green parts kept separate
- 4- ounce can chu chee curry paste , or use red curry paste and a pinch of brown sugar
- 14- ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups water or chicken stock, or use ½ cup water or stock for a thicker curry
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and sliced into strips
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 pound mahi mahi filets, skin removed
- Salt to taste
- Cooked white rice or cooked rice noodles
- Thai basil leaves, lime wedges, minced cilantro, and crispy shallots
Prepare the curry base:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and scallion whites and cook for 2–3 minutes until they soften. Add a pinch of salt.
- Add the chu chee curry paste and fry it with the aromatics for 2–3 minutes until fragrant. Add the solidified fat from the can of coconut milk. Cook until it melts and begins to sizzle, about 3–5 minutes.
- Pour in the rest of the liquid from the can of coconut. Add the water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and bell pepper. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are fork-tender. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Prepare the garnishes:
- While the curry simmers, prepare the garnishes and arrange them on a plate.
Cook the fish:
- Taste the curry and add the fish sauce. Simmer for 2–3 minutes.
- Pat the fish dry and season with salt. Return the curry to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and immediately add the fish. Cover the pot and cook for 5–8 minutes or until the fish reaches 145ºF. The simmering time for the fish will vary depending on the thickness of the filet.
- Once the fish reaches 145ºF, turn off the heat.
- Transfer the fish and vegetables to a serving bowl. Spoon the rest of the sauce on top. Serve with the garnishes alongside rice or cooked rice noodles. Enjoy!