Tilapia in Banana Curry

This is one of those few recipes where having a lot of ingredients really works. I’m usually a fan of simple, but the complexity (in terms of number of ingredients) of this one really pays off in the flavor.

The banana curry can be made separately and put over foods other than fish. This recipe also works well as a vegetarian recipe if you substitute firm tofu for the tilapia. I’ll re-post that variation of this recipe later today with instructions for working with tofu.


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 large banana, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons of diced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lemongrass
  • 4 tilapia filet
  • kosher salt and black pepper


  1. Heat the canola oil and brown the banana halves over high heat for 30 seconds per side.
  2. Chop the bananas coarsely and transfer to a saucepan.
  3. Add the onion, ginger, carrots, celery, curry paste, brown sugar, coconut milk, basil, cilantro, and lemongrass and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and reduce liquid by half, stirring often with a wooden spoon (about 45 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Lightly salt and pepper the tilapia filets.
  7. When the sauce is finished, transfer it to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return to the saucepan on low heat to keep warm.
  8. Bake the fish for 10 minutes.
  9. Transfer the fish to warmed plates and top with banana curry sauce.

How Not to Screw It Up

  1. Bananas turn mushy when you saute them, but it’s a necessary step to bring out richer flavors which you want transferred to the curry. They don’t need more than 30 seconds since you’re on high heat, so be careful. Otherwise, you’ll be scraping burned banana mush from your nice pans.
  2. It’s best to heat the pan to high heat before you add the bananas. This way, all 30 seconds are spent sauteing the banana and not wasted waiting for heat in the pan.
  3. Keep stirring the curry every 5 minutes or so. It keeps the heavier ingredients from falling to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  4. This recipe is especially nice when you put some kind of sauteed greens on the plate, top with the fish, and then top it all with the curry.