Come with me. Walk through a wooden back gate and down stone steps into a yard filled with a profusion of plants, whimsical statuary peeking out here and there. See two women standing in a patch of sunshine, sharing a bottle of beer. Hear their deep, relaxed belly laughs; see bare arms, dusted with freckles, gesturing widely as a story is told. Evening sun gilds the table, a plate of cheese, a row of glasses. Pour yourself a drink. Smell grass and fresh air and smoke from the grill. Notice a glamorous new lipstick color, a funky necklace. Watch as the last to arrive rushes into the circle on the lawn, drops into a chair, and joins the conversation. Listen, not to the words, but to the pitch and cadence of the voices for a moment–rippling like a shallow river, weaving around each other in a practiced fugue. Take a deep breath and settle in.
Book club met at Cindy’s this time. The book was Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder. The meal was…simply amazing. With her usual effortless style, Cindy served up grilled Mahi-mahi with Thai Green Curry over rice, and a green salad on the side. The Mahi-mahi was a fusion of bright colors, red peppers at once crisp and charred, smooth and spicy curry sauce, and the fresh notes of basil popping up here and there. Sitting in a lawn chair eating this dinner, I could have been on a tropical vacation.
And then, after a lot of delighted sighing over our dinners and some discussion of the book, the twilight turned nippy and we moved inside for a lovely rhubarb gallette. Life is good!
The Mahi-mahi recipe came from Sunset Magazine, and it looks like Cindy doubled it for us. For such an impressive presentation, this dish comes together surprisingly easily. Serve this for your next backyard summer party and not only will you have time to chat, when dinner is served you will be crowned as the queen or king of chefs, celebrated and feted, possibly showered with flower petals by your thrilled and grateful guests.
Mahi-mahi with Thai Green Curry
(adapted from Sunset Magazine)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, divided
- 2 cans (14 oz. each) coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
- 2 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- cornstarch for thickening sauce
- 4 mahimahi fillets (each 1 in thick and 6 oz.)
- 2 large red bell peppers, seeded, cut into rings
- cooked rice
- lime wedges
1. Heat grill to high (450° to 550°).
2. Purée 2/3 cup basil leaves, 1 can coconut milk, and the curry paste in a blender. Cook mixture in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining can coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, the fish sauce, and sugar. Add cornstarch. Cook sauce at a low boil until thickened, 10 minutes.
3. Coat fish with 3 to 4 tbsp. sauce. Coat peppers with about 2 tbsp. sauce.
4. Oil cooking grate, using tongs and a wad of oiled paper towels. Grill peppers, covered, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Grill fish, covered, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. With a wide spatula, carefully transfer to another plate.
5. Spoon rice onto a large platter and top with fish. Thinly slice remaining basil. Spoon half of sauce over fish, top with peppers, and sprinkle with basil. Serve with lime wedges and more sauce.