Thai Grilled Whole Fish with Coriander-Chili Sauce

Thai Grilled Whole Fish with Coriander-Chili Sauce
Thai Grilled Whole Fish with Coriander-Chili Sauce. D.Schmidt for About.com
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1 whole fish (4 servings)
Ratings (19)

This traditional Thai fish recipe can be made outdoors on the barbecue, or you can pan-fry the fish indoors - it is made both ways in Thailand. You'll love the tenderness of the fish combined with a fantastic coriander-chili sauce, which can be made from mild to extra spicy to suit your taste. And nearly any whole "white-fleshed" fish can be used for this recipe (here I've chosen rainbow trout, but feel free to substitute whole snapper, sea bream, tilapia, gray mullet, or the fish of your choice). ENJOY.

What You'll Need

  • 1 small trout (or, snapper, sea bass, sea perch, sea bream, or other white fish; cleaned)
  • dash sea salt
  • 2 limes
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp. tamarind paste (or substitute 1 Tbsp. lime juice +1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger, peeled and sliced)
  • 1 cup fresh coriander (leaves and stems)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (de-seeded and diced)
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies (minced, de-seeded if you prefer less heat)
  • Optional: 1 cup vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

How to Make It

  1. Prepare fish by rinsing it, then patting it dry. Make 2-3 diagonal cuts on the side of the fish (with the blade of the knife on an angle facing the head). The cuts should be several inches apart (this will make the fish easier to eat and give it more flavor).
  2. Squeeze the juice of 1-2 limes over and inside fish. Sprinkle surface with sea salt and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Place water, tamarind (or lime juice + soy sauce), garlic, sugar, galangal (or ginger), coriander, chili, and fish sauce in a food processor. Process well (OR chop and mix by hand).
  1. Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Add the diced pepper and simmer over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes. Taste test the sauce for salt and sour-sweetness (note that it should taste tangy), adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, and more sugar if you find it too sour. Cover and keep warm while you cook the fish. Tip: the bell pepper should retain some of its crunchiness.
  2. Grill the fish on the barbecue, or deep-fry it in a wok or large frying pan with 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil (oil should be at least 1 inch deep). Allow to fry about 5 minutes on each side, or until the flesh has browned and flakes easily.

    Fish Cooking Tip: Don't flip the fish too early, or the skin will stick to the pan/barbecue. Allow it to cook at least 2 minutes before turning (the natural oils of the fish will then come through and "unstick" it).

  3. To serve, plate the fish and pour the sauce over. Garnish with sprigs of fresh coriander and wedges of lime. Serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice and enjoy with a cold lager or glass of white wine.