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Kitchen Adventure #24 to Jamaica - Codfish Curry

Kitchen Adventure #24 to Jamaica - Codfish Curry

13th May 2024

The adventure: I'm trying to eat better. Mhm...I'm at that age that I'm realizing a nutritional base of wine, chili dogs, and chocolate don't make for a long life. It's time to consider what I'm eating and what that does to my body. Note I said consider, by NO MEANS am I giving up my decadent ways...just trying to offset them a bit. Part of that offset is my shift to more of a Mediterranean diet...fruit, veggies, nuts, chicken, and fish. And since fish makes me gag, I've started the search for recipes that make it just a smidge less offensive. How's that for a recipe sales pitch?! Haha! Anyway, I'm leafing through all my international cookbooks, desperately searching for something to try and Jamaican Codfish Curry is just intriguing enough that it might be okay. Mhm...I'm absolutely oozing with excitement over this adventure...not.  

Pre-adventure Jitters: Fish. (gag) Coconut with fish. (double gag) I wouldn't call this jitters, more like pre-adventure sadness and disgust at eating fish, but I am where I am and this diet shift needs to happen. Annddd maybe it won't be too awful? Soooo…armed with the recipe from "The Best Recipes in the World" by Mark Bittman, and a melancholy despair for the diet of my youth, the adventure begins.

The Adventure: Sooo...part of the reason I chose this recipe is that I have almost everything. Believe it or not, I always have coconut milk in the pantry. The Bent n Dent ALWAYS has a can or two at $0.50, so I snag it every time and keep a healthy stash. I need to get the cod, which is no big deal. It's a pretty common fish. That just leaves the scotch bonnet, which shouldn't take much would think. takes effort. A blazing crap ton of effort. No scotch bonnets. Anywhere. I'm not driving down to Pittsburgh for a little pepper, and I'm surely not buying one online, so I'm stuck substituting. I go for a habanero whhiiccchhh I can only buy in a variety pack...of course. So variety pack it is. One habanero for the recipe, and 20 assorted hot peppers to spare.

I grab the fish to salt. (gag) Why does fish have to be so slimy?!?! Give a dash here...dash there, and stick it in the fridge. I move on to the prep. There very little to do. Shamelessly little to do, but I'm not spending hours on a dish that I'm predisposed to hate. I grab my latex gloves and start cutting the habanero. Yup, you read that right. I always put on latex gloves before cutting hot peppers. Why? Well, there was an incident. Hot pepper oil on my fingers...didn't wash off like I thought it would...scratched my eye...holy hell. I now have latex gloves ready and waiting for these very occasions. 

I fry up my produce, add the coconut milk, and boil. And boil. And boil. It's taking forever to boil down. I go to the basement and move my laundry from the washer to the dryer...still not boiled down. Put the dog out...nope, still boiling. Go upstairs and put away the laundry I took out of the dryer. Annndd still not boiled down. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, it's done! I gently lay in my fish, let it bubble, and before I knew it, the fish was done and it was ready to go. I added some rice as a side...just in case. You know, I need some filler if I can't stomach the fish. 

I have to admit. It smells wonderful and looks good! I can't believe I'm saying that...about fish! I take my first bite... a really little bite... and I'm blown away by the flavor. It's a little sweet, a little spicy, and the creaminess of the fish balances everything out beautifully. It's really good. I don't mean really good for's actually really good. This is going in the stack to make on a regular basis. Woohoo! I found a fish I actually like! On to the next adventure!

The Recipe - Codfish Curry


  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds fillets of cod, red snapper, sea bass, or other white fleshed fish, in 1 or 2 pieces
  • 1 TBSP corn, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or other chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup chopped tomato with its juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


  • Salt the cod lightly on both sides and let rest refrigerated for about an hour, but at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Put the oil in a deep skillet or wide saucepan and place over medium high heat. A minute later, add the garlic, onion, chile, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and tomato, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces by about half.
  • Rinse the fish and add it to the pot. Adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles steadily but not violently. When the fish is done, after about 10 minutes - a thin bladed knife will meet little resistance - add the lime juice, garnish, and serve.