Monkfish, Prawn and Coconut Curry

Monkfish, Prawn and Coconut Curry

Fresh, light and healthy, this monkfish, prawn and coconut curry is quick to make but still feels like a bit of a treat. Given that the ingredients for this dish can be a little pricey we would have it as a special weekend dinner, however, you can skip the prawns and substitute the monkfish for a cheaper fish – I would recommend a firm, white fish that will hold its shape better, such as hake. You could use a slightly more flakey fish like haddock, but would just need to make sure that you are gentle when stirring so that it doesn’t fall apart completely.

Because you want the fish to be cooked perfectly just before serving, it’s not a great dish to make in advance, however if you do want to get ahead, you could make the sauce (up to the point of adding the spinach) up to two days in advance and keep it in the fridge. You would then just need to reheat and add the spinach and fish. 

This is also a great dish for kids – the flavours are mild and slightly sweet from the coconut (whilst being packed with spinach!) and you can omit the chilli altogether. My daughter is almost 2 and this is her favourite dinner! If we are eating it together, I omit the chilli from the main dish and add some freshly chopped chilli onto my portion at the table. 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 20 prawns
  • 1 medium sized monkfish tail, off the bone (get your fishmonger to do this), and cubed into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 x tins of coconut milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 red chilli (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 1 banana shallot / small onion
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bag of fresh baby leaf spinach (approximately 200g)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Basmati rice to serve

Finely chop the shallot or onion, the garlic and the chilli and peel and grate the ginger. Having this all ready to go before you start cooking means that you will be less likely to burn the onions or the garlic! This is meant to be a relatively mild curry so as not to overpower the flavour of the fish and the sweetness of the prawns, so I tend to use just half a red chilli. However, chillies tend to vary so wildly in their level of heat (even if you buy the same type from the same shop on a regular basis!), so I always taste a tiny bit of the chilli to check this before using it. If it is super spicy, I might only use a finely chopped quarter, but if it is quite mild I will probably use the whole thing.

Garlic, Chilli, Ginger and Onion

Take a wide-based pan with a lid and place over a low heat with the lid off. Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the pan. 

Add the onion to the pan with a pinch of salt and fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes stirring constantly. Once the onion is starting to become translucent, add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Keep stirring for one minute and don’t let the onion or garlic brown or burn.  

Onions, chilli, garlic and chilli cooking

Add the spices (turmeric, ground ginger, fenugreek, cumin and garam masala) to the pan and stir over a low heat for a further minute – your kitchen should be smelling amazing by now!


Open two tins of coconut milk and pour into the pan. Increase to a medium heat and bring the liquid in the pan to the boil before allowing it to simmer and reduce to a consistency that would thickly coat the back of a spoon. Add the spinach and continue to cook over a low heat until the spinach has wilted into the sauce – as it wilts, it will give out water into the sauce which will become thinner again, so continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced back to a thick consistency.

Spinach wilting in curry

Season with salt, black pepper and a tablespoon of fish sauce . Once you are happy with the consistency and seasoning of the sauce, you can add the monkfish cubes directly to the sauce. Place the lid on the pan and let the sauce gently poach the fish over a low heat. 

After about 4 minutes add the prawns to the pan. Once the prawns have turned pink and are cooked through, check that the monkfish is also cooked – you can take a piece out, cut into it and check, or use a temperature probe on one of the larger pieces (fish needs to reach 50 degrees celcius). Squeeze over the juice of one lime, and finely chop the coriander and scatter over the top. Serve with basmati rice.

Monkfish, prawn and coconut curry with rice

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