Deep fried pomfret in chilli and tamarind

It looks as if all I’ve been cooking in the last few weeks is Asian fare.  To be honest, I haven’t been cooking all that much.  I think I had a biscuit for dinner one night this week, and a bowl of cheerios on another night.  When I have had the time , inclination and energy to cook, I’ve been churning out what I call sick-man’s food.  Last night’s claypot chicken rice did the trick for me as the ginger made me feel less ill.

Today, after the butternut squash soup, I craved something with chilli to awaken my taste buds.

I remember watching an episode of The Best in Australia a while ago in which Anna Gare cooked a lovely Asian-style deep-fried fish in chilli and tamarind sauce.  I had some leftover home-made chilli paste from last week, as well as two pomfret in the freezer and decided to try out the recipe.  I skipped the pounding of the chilli and other ingredients into a paste, which really did cut back on the cooking time.  My chilli paste had lemongrass in it, which added another dimension to the overall flavour.  I shallow fried the fish and finished it off in the oven. 


  • 2 whole pomfret, gutted and cleaned (or use snapper as per the original recipe), marinated in 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder and a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp kicap manis (dark soy)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • vegetable oil for shallow frying


  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil a small saucepan
  3. Fry the chilli paste for 1 minute
  4. Pour in the fish sauce, soy, tamarind juice and water and bring to a poil
  5. Take the saucepan off the heat and keep warm
  6. Heat enough oil in a frying pan to shallow fry the fish
  7. Fry one fish at a time – 4 minutes on either side
  8. Place fish on a foil-lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 5 minutes
  9. Drain all the oil bar 1 tbsp and fry the shallots, garlic and spring onions for a minute until fragrant
  10. Heat the sauce made earlier
  11. Remove the fish out of the oven and place on a serving dish
  12. Garnish with the fried condiments (step 9) and pour the sauce over the fish
  13. Serve with basmati rice



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