Monday 23 October 2017

Burmese chilli fish with hot and sour salad

Diana Henry shares some of her healthy and flavoursome recipes inspired by cuisine from around the world

Burmese chilli fish.
Burmese chilli fish.
Diana Henry's book, 'A Change of Appetite'.

Diana Henry

This is adapted from a recipe in Naomi Duguid's 'Burma: Rivers of Flavor', one of my favourite cookbooks. It's a great quick dish.

This is adapted from a recipe in Naomi Duguid's 'Burma: Rivers of Flavor', one of my favourite cookbooks. It's a great quick dish.

Serves 4


750g fish fillets (I like bream), skinned

2 tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

8 shallots, very finely chopped

½ tsp sea salt flake

3cm (generous 1in) root ginger, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

½ tbsp groundnut oil

1 dried red chilli, crumbled

1 tbsp fish sauce

Lime juice, to taste

For the hot and sour salad

¼ savoy cabbage

8 shallots

10 radishes, topped and tailed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp caster sugar, or more to taste

Burmese chilli fish.


Rinse the fish, pat dry and feel along the surface for any little bones that may be left. Pull out any you find. Cut the fish into 5cm (2in) pieces and toss it in a bowl with the turmeric and salt. Turn the fish to coat and set aside for 15 minutes.

Pound the shallots in a large mortar with half the sea salt flakes (the salt acts as an abrasive) until you have a paste, remove, then do the same with the ginger and garlic, using the rest of the salt.

Make the salad so that it's ready to go once the fish is cooked. Remove and discard any discoloured or tough outer leaves and the core of the cabbage and shred the leaves very finely. Put into a serving bowl. Slice the shallots as finely as you can (use a mandoline if you have one) and do the same with the radishes. Add to the bowl with the chilli. In a little cup or bowl, mix the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Taste; you may want a little more sugar. Toss the vegetables with the dressing. (There should be plenty of dressing on this; all the vegetables should be coated.)

Heat ½ tbsp of the oil and saute the ground shallots over a medium heat until soft and starting to turn golden.

Add a little more of the oil, the pounded garlic and ginger and the dried chilli and cook for another couple of minutes until the whole mixture is soft and golden. Add a little more oil (you may not need all of what remains), add the fish and cook for 1 ½ minutes, then turn the pieces over and cook for another minute or so on the other side. It should be lovely and golden. Add the fish sauce and taste; you may want to add more.

Squeeze on some lime and serve with the hot and sour salad and some brown rice.

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