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Seafood Curry with Coconut, Citrus and Cucumber

This Asian-inspired curry, more sweet than hot, pairs nicely with a medium-bodied Australian Riesling that will balance its sweet, citrus and hot tones. An off-dry white or rosé picks up on the nuance of the sweet coconut. Dependable: dry, unoaked Australian Riesling. Daring: off-dry Muscat such as Italian Muscato D'Asti.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1 Tbs. each peeled and grated fresh ginger and
      finely minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. each grated lime zest and minced
      lemongrass
  • 1 to 2 tsp. minced jalapeño chili
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fish or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, pureed with 1 Tbs. water
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice, or to taste
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 small squid
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, quartered
      lengthwise, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. firm white fish fillets
  • 24 clams, well scrubbed
  • 8 each medium or large shrimp, peeled and
      deveined, and sea scallops
  • 1/4 cup each chopped fresh mint and cilantro

Directions:

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coriander, cumin and pepper, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a very large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, lime zest, lemongrass, chili and toasted spices and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, pureed cilantro, lime juice and brown sugar, bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors of the curry base. Season with salt and set aside.

Meanwhile, clean the squid: Working with 1 squid at a time, pull the head from the body. Cut the head from the tentacles above the eyes and discard the head. Squeeze the hard "beak" from the base of the tentacles. Cut the tentacles in half and set them aside. Remove the transparent "quill" from the body and discard; rinse the body well and peel off the speckled skin. Cut the body into rings 1 inch wide. Set aside.

Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the cucumbers, boil for 3 minutes, drain and cool under running water.

Return the curry base to a simmer over medium heat. Cut the fish fillets into 2-inch cubes and add to the base along with the clams (discarding any that fail to close to the touch) and cucumbers. Simmer until the fish is opaque throughout, about 8 minutes. Add the shrimp, scallops and squid during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Ladle into a warmed serving bowl, discarding any clams that failed to open. Garnish with the mint and cilantro and serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).