Recipes: Fresh from the sea and the apple tree... a tasty autumn supper

Here Di Curtin shares her recipe for Coconut Fish and prawns and an Apple Upside Down Cake for dessert
Recipes: Fresh from the sea and the apple tree... a tasty autumn supper

Coconut Fish and Prawns by Di Curtin.

NOT long after I first arrived in Ireland, almost two decades ago now, I was asked to teach an autumn adult evening cookery course in a local secondary school in West Cork.

Although I had been working with food for many years before that, it was my first venture into teaching others how to put tasty meals on the table. The one thing I kept in my mind was I wanted others to enjoy great food, without feeling stressed about how to make it.

That first class worked through many recipes, from the very basics of how to make stock, to everyday dinners and some fancy stuff as the festive season neared.

One of the most requested things was how to cook fish. The Irish are well known for their fish on Fridays, but generally speaking, it’s usually not terribly adventurous.

As my group grew in confidence, they wanted to know how to make fish interesting. This week’s recipe is one that has been adapted from those times. I’ve cooked many versions of this, from a simple version cooked only with cream, to this mildly spiced dish with Thai yellow curry paste and coconut milk.

The most important thing here is freshest, best quality fish, which we are lucky enough to be able to get our hands on in County Cork. I will say it’s not cheap to eat good fish here, but well worth every penny.

The big fear of many novice cooks is overcooking fish because they don’t know when it’s ‘done’. Seafood takes only moments to cook, especially in this moist way with the creamy coconut milk. So it’s all about the prep and you can have a spectacular supper on the table in no time.


Ingredients (Serves 4)

Knob of butter 

Splash of oil 

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and halved lengthways 

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed 

1 piece fresh root ginger, grated 

1 tbsp Thai yellow curry paste 

400 mls coconut milk 

100g multicoloured baby tomatoes, halved 

4 portions of filleted and skinless white fish (haddock, whiting or cod) 

300g raw peeled prawns, defrosted if frozen 


  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Good squeeze lime juice Melt the butter with oil in a pan and add spring onions, garlic and ginger. Cook over gentle heat, till just beginning to soften.
  • Stir in curry paste and cook for a further minute.
  • Add coconut milk and bring to bubbling.
  • Add tomatoes, fish and prawns. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook for about 6 minutes depending on thickness of fish, or until the fish is just opaque and the prawns are cooked through and pink. Season and add lime juice.
  • Serve immediately, with boiled rice.
An Upside down Apple Cake
An Upside down Apple Cake


75g butter

2 tbsp soft brown sugar 

2 apples, cored and sliced 

Maple syrup for drizzling

175g plain flour 

1 heaped tsp baking powder 

175g caster sugar 

175g butter, in cubes 

3 medium fresh free range eggs, beaten 

Splash of milk 

2 apples, cored and sliced in wedges 

2 tbsp runny honey 

Sifted icing sugar for dusting 


  • Melt butter in a pan and add sugar. Stir to melt and caramelise.
  • Add apple slices and toss in the caramel mix.
  • Remove from heat and leave till cool enough to handle.
  • Arrange in a twirl pattern in the base of a 20cm shallow cake tin, lined with well buttered baking parchment.
  • Drizzle apples with maple syrup.
  • Sift flour with baking powder and reserve.
  • Beat sugar with butter till light, pale and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the eggs, bit by bit, with alternate spoons of flour mix.
  • When all the egg is added, tip in the remaining flour and whisk in.
  • Add enough milk to make a very soft dropping consistency.
  • Spoon the sponge mix over the apples evenly, levelling the surface. Give a little tap to knock out the air bubbles.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven Gas 5 375F 190C or 180C for fan assisted, for about 30 minutes or until the sponge is just set. Cover the top with parchment or foil if it is getting too brown.
  • Test sponge by piercing with a skewer. If it comes out clean the cake is ready.
  • Cool slightly in the tin before turning out.
  • To turn out, loosen the cake around the edges of the tin with the point of a sharp knife.
  • Place a plate over the top of the cake.
  • Hold the plate and tin and invert the cake so the plate is on the bottom.
  • Carefully lift off the cake tin. If any apples stick in the base, simply lift them out and popthem back on top of the cake.
  • Drizzle with extra maple syrup and serve warm, with cream or ice


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