Pan-Roasted Stone Bass with Buttermilk Curry


  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus 3 tablespoons, divided use
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 2 teaspoons ground fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric, divided use
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves
  • 3 cups tomato purée
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried mango powder
  • 4 6-ounce filets Stone bass or firm white fish
  • Cilantro leaves, as needed
  • 4 cups basmati rice, cooked


In a medium pot, heat ½ cup oil and sweat onions with a few pinches of salt until soft but not brown. Add asafoetida, cook 1 minute and add 1 tablespoon salt, fenugreek, 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne and fenugreek leaves until fragrant. Add tomato and cook down until the mixture is reduced and tiny drops of oil are breaking out. Add 4 cups water and reduce the mixture by one-third, about 15 minutes. Add buttermilk and simmer the curry base for another 5 minutes.

In a separate pan, heat 3 tablespoons oil to gently cook the garlic until lightly browned. Stir the garlic and oil into the curry base; keep warm.

Combine: cumin, coriander, mango powder and remaining 1 teaspoon turmeric and season filets on the skin side along with salt as desired. Heat remaining ½ cup oil or as needed in saute pan on medium-high heat and sear filets skin-side down, being careful to manage the heat so that the skin crisps up without burning the spices. Flip the fish and cook it until just done. Put the fish in shallow bowls and pool some of the sauce around it. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with rice. Makes 4 servings.

Chef-owner Andrew Zimmerman, Proxi, Chicago, from Food Fanatics Magazine