Thai Yellow fish with BBQ Shrimp…not a Reuben

Yellow Lemon grass Curry ©rory kelly

The middle of October on the North Coast is an unforgiving place to be, the drizzle is constant, the wind is barbaric and the buzz of the season is gone. The tourists and their sun-screen have long since departed reducing the town to its raw exposed parts – quiet bars and lonely streets, even the arcades begin to shut early and open later their outdoor rides frozen in time like giant art installations lifeless, still and allowed to rust during the off-season.

Some places close and the career chefs move on hunting out a month here or a month there around the coast or further afield – unlikely I’ll see them again. Waitresses drift back to college or head for the sun in another hemisphere while clumsy bar staff, employed at a moments notice during the heady squall of the summer vanish….. only their stained bar aprons suggest they were even here. This once electric and neon splashed town is dull and lifeless  – this must be what a hangover looks like.

We stay open right through, the golfers that flock to the Links course now keep us alive along with crazy perma-tanned Yanks in search of ‘roots’ and long-lost Mac’s and O’s . But for the most part The Kitchen is quiet, we work week-day shifts alone – there’s no need for more than one chef as we run maybe 10-20 covers each day Monday to Thursday – its a reflective time and time for experimentation…but mostly I’m thinking……….. what the utter fuck am I doing here!?……..…….and why have I been drunk since June……….

Right now the  Kitchen is a cosy place to be. Its early, maybe 6am. I’m not hung over. I was given the keys a few weeks back having proved myself trust worthy, this just meant I hadn’t been caught swiping full fillets of beef from the walk-in or stabbed a pot-slinger….yet. It’s cold so I fire up the 12 burners to heat the place – a trick our head chef employed. I sit crossed legged and contemplative on the floor in front of the two stand up fridges with a bacon sandwich waiting for inspiration to fall from one of the shelves….its Friday and I need a special for tonight.

A tray of  huge North Atlantic shrimp and a fat fillet of marble white Cod sit lonesome on a lower shelf, these are Tony’s……but not anymore, these are now my Friday night special. I know Tony, he would turn these into some funky- weird- assed Sea- Food Rueben with malted bread a Red-Square-level Russian dressing and serve it with a shredded and sweet-spiced fennel salad – an incredible thing by the way…but not for tonight…..the wind, the rain, the cold all dictate that a ‘warm hug’ is required for tonight’s key-note dish and I have the very thing in mind…………………







Prep time: 10 mins ♦  Cook Time: 20 mins ♦ Total time 30 mins ♦ Serves 2



1 large Cod fillet – cubed to 1″

100 grams rice

for the paste

2 stalks of lemon grass

2 tbs turmeric powder

1 small red onion

2 tps Gara Masala

1 green chili (I keep it mild as this is a delicate dish)

A couple of lugs of Rapeseed oil

1 tps salt flakes

1 tps black pepper corns

1 tps Coriander seeds

1 tps yellow mustard seeds

2 cloves garlic

for the BBQ shrimp

8-10 fat prawn or shrimp

1 tps smoked paprika

Dash of white wine vinegar

for the sauce

1 small can coconut milk

1oomls Chicken stock (or fish stock, but I prefer the depth chicken brings)

Fresh Corinader to finish


Step one:

make the paste by combining the paste ingredients in a Mortar and Pestle and bash to a sticky (not runny) pulp – it should be a vibrant yellow.

Step 2:

Get the rice on (I use Basmati, very forgiving) – in a pot just cover with boiling water, bring to a boil then simmer with the lid on until all the liquid is gone then turn of the heat off and let it steam until cooked – about 15minutes start to finish.

Step 3:

As the rice blips away get the curry sauce on – lug some rapeseed oil into a wok or deep ‘milk’ pan then dump the paste in and cook it until it splits – looks ugly but it’s what you want. Then add the stock a little at a time to bring together a working sauce.

Step 4:

Drop the heat right down to almost nothing, add the coconut milk – combine well then gentle add the cod and let it cook gently for about 5 minutes.

Step 5 :

As the Cod cooks gently in the Yellow sauce get the Shrimp into a screaming hot frying pan with a little oil and stir fry with the paprika and the vinegar until charred and cooked through.

Step 6:

Check the cod is cooked by simply looking into it – if the cods flkaes easily its done. Serve in a bowl with the rice, shrmp and a scattering of fresh coriander.



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