Pomfret is a funny looking, unfamiliar fish, but it’s easy to love and is perfectly suited to a coconut milk-based Indian curry. Image source: Flickr CC user pelican
The silver pomfret has a long way to go until it catches up to salmon or tuna in popularity, but it’s probably the best tasting fish you’ve never heard of. I think it’s safe to say that in time its popularity will grow, because it’s a buttery, flaky fish that’s easy to make. Right now, though, it’s most popular in Indian and Asian cooking, particularly in curries. Its mild, sweet flesh just seems to have an affinity for curry spices, and I especially love it in coconut-based green curries like the one I’ll describe to you here.
It Doesn’t Taste As Odd As It Looks
The pomfret is a funny looking creature with a small head dwarfed by a flat, diamond shaped body and a deeply forked tail. Each market weight fish weighs about three-quarters of a pound and they only have a single bone, making them very easy to clean. There are dozens of pomfret subspecies but the silver pomfret is widely regarded as the most delicious, and it’s definitely my favorite.
I’ve also got a special affection for pomfret because it helped me win a bet. One Friday night, dinner reservations with friends fell through and everyone ended up back my house. As you might imagine, I bring home a lot of fresh fish and so naturally everyone figured I’d whip up some fresh fish for dinner. I was happy to oblige, but what was it going to be? I had black cod and three whole pomfrets in my refrigerator. I showed my guests both fish and they gawked at the bizarre-looking, flat pomfret and decided they’d rather have the black cod. They’d had black cod before and loved it. Why take a risk on something new?
So I made everyone a bet. Let me cook the pomfret and if they didn’t like it I’d pay for dinner the next time we went out, and they could order whatever they wanted, even black cod if it was on the menu. If I won, they’d have to take me out. They took my bet.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m crazy about black cod, but the buttery quality of pomfret makes it just as easy to love. And I admit I cheated a bit. I had brought the pomfret home because I planned on making an Indian green curry and I had the all ingredients already on hand.
Here’s what I made:
Pomfret Coconut Green Curry
Combine all the ingredients except the last five in a blender and puree until smooth. Heat the oil in a wide, deep pan and sauté the curry leaves and shallots for about one minute.
Add the curry paste and about one cup of water or until it reaches the desired consistency. Cook over medium heat about five minutes until it simmers and begins to thicken.
Add the pomfret and salt and pepper to taste, simmering gently for about 10 minutes or until fish is cooked. Serve with steamed rice and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
Finding the Elusive Pomfret
Did I win the bet? Well, the fish curry disappeared quickly and my friends were soon asking for the recipe. Truth is, I’d rather cook at home with friends and family than eat out so I haven’t taken them up on my night out yet. But the experiment proved how likeable pomfret is, even if it’s a bit funny looking.
In the meantime, try something new and enjoy some pomfret yourself. Daily Fresh Fish sells only the very freshest fish, and only fish that’s been sustainably farmed or caught. Pomfret can be tough to find, but Daily Fresh Fish will ship you plump pomfret the next day if you order before 2pm. Who knows? You might make some pomfret converts of your own.