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To streamline this simple and flavorful dish, make the curry sauce in advance — the flavors will deepen overnight. Ultra-flexible, you can use your favorite in-season vegetables, switch out rice noodles for potatoes or rice, and even use a different fish altogether.
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RECIPE AND PHOTOS FROM CHEF IGNACIO LOPEZ OF THE MERCHANT IN BOSTON.
Soak rice noodles in a large bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes or follow instructions on back of package. Once noodles are soft and pliable, drain well, and reserve.
Next, make the curry sauce. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the canola oil. When it shimmers, add the red curry paste and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon until fragrant.
Add 1 cup of the coconut milk to the pot, mix well, and cook for another five minutes while stirring the whole time.
Stir in remaining coconut milk and water and bring to a simmer.
Add lime leaves, turmeric, curry powder, sugar, and salt. While heat is on stir well to incorporate and dissolve solids. Simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Move on to fish.
To cook the fish, cut out small pin bones in the center of the filet. Pat fish dry on both sides and cut into desired portion size. Season on both sides with salt and freshly ground white pepper. In the same water, drop veggies in and blanch for about 2 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, and place beside or on top of ric
Place a large skillet on the stovetop (largest burner) over high heat (a cast iron or nonstick skillet would work well).
Coat the pan well with canola oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) and let it get hot. Once it’s smoking slightly, gently place fluke fillets in pan, top side down, away from your body (watch for splattering oil). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then gently flip and cook for less than a minute. Remove from heat and let rest while you assemble bowls.
Once fish is almost cooked, drop rice noodles in the boiling water for 10 seconds, drain and evenly distribute between six bowls.
In the same water, drop veggies in and blanch for about 2 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, and place beside or on top of rice noodles.
Divide sauce among the bowls. Place fish over the sauce and garnish with the watercress, cilantro, and basil.