Fish curry with coconut sambal


  • Serves 6 people

"The fish curry I had at Flying Fish in Pyrmont is one of the best I've ever tasted - so fragrant and full of flavour. I'd be thrilled if you would nab the recipe from the chef for me."
Sam Foster, North Bondi, NSW

To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email Please include the restaurant's name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 6 baby snapper fillets (about 200gm each)
  • To serve: basmati rice and lime wedges
  • Curry sauce
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2½ tbsp Sri Lankan curry powder (see note)
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1.25 litres (5 cups) fish stock
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Coconut sambal
  • 1 small dry coconut
  • 1 tbsp Maldive fish (optional; see note)
  • 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 small Spanish onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
01   For curry sauce, heat ghee in a saucepan over medium heat, add curry leaves and fry until crackling (30 seconds). Add garlic, shallot, cardamom, fennel seeds, fenugreek, chilli powder and cinnamon and stir occasionally until shallot is tender (5-7 minutes). Add curry powder and turmeric and fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add stock and 500ml water, bring to the simmer, and reduce by half. Add coconut cream, bring to the simmer, reduce until slightly thickened (10-15 minutes), strain (discard solids) and keep warm.
02   For coconut sambal, combine ingredients in a bowl, stir and season to taste.
03   Heat half the ghee in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook half the fish, skin-side down, turning once, until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes each side). Add remaining ghee and cook second batch of fish.
04   Add lime juice to curry sauce and season to taste. Divide rice between plates, top with snapper, pour sauce over then top with sambal and serve with lime wedges.

Note Sri Lankan curry powder is available from Asian grocers. Maldive fish, dried tuna, is available from Asian grocers.

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