Golden Turmeric Fish (Indonesian)
The stunning golden hue of this baked fish recipe comes from turmeric, well known these days for its health benefits! In this Indonesian Turmeric Fish dish, it’s used in a simple curry paste which is slathered on the fish before being cooked in the oven, then topped with a simple salsa.
A delight to look at, and even better to eat, if you love South East Asian food, this one’s got your name written all over it!
These were great for drying my fruit. I could easily stack them and put them in the dishwasher to clean. Nice to have the small holes so my fruit when it dries doesn’t fall through. Get Cooling Rack Stainless Steel For Drying Fruit
Golden Turmeric Fish
“Everybody” these days knows that turmeric is good for you. Prevention of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, plus potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, to name a few.
Well, I’d love to tell you that I’m cramming turmeric into this recipe for health reasons. But I’m not! Turmeric is a fairly common ingredient in South East Asian cooking (even more so in Indian food!), whether in powdered or fresh form.
In today’s recipe, it’s used in a homestyle Indonesian fish dish. Fresh turmeric is the star ingredient used in the bright yellow Indonesian turmeric curry paste which is slathered onto fish, baked, then served with a simple form of Sambal Tomat which is like an Indonesian salsa. The Sambal Tomat adds freshness as well as juiciness to the overall dish, and really brings the whole dish together. So don’t even think about skipping it!
Using this pan for the first time, I decided to put the entire pan with risen dough in it, inside a dutch oven to bake like a sourdough loaf. It’s amazing how the high stabilizing sides allowed my gluten free recipe to rise far beyond what my usual pan allows. Very happy to have the extra inch in both width and height! Get Aluminum Banana Bread Pan For Sandwich Bread
I love the vibrant colour of the fish, and the striking contrast of the red Sambal Tomat. But of course, the eating part! The fresh curry flavours in this are sensational!
Ingredients required for Turmeric Curry Paste & Topping
Here’s what you need to make the:
Turmeric Curry Paste which we slather onto the fish; and
fresh Sambal Tomat which is like a salsa that we pile over the fish.
Because there’s a few South East Asian specific ingredients listed above, I’ll do a quick run through of each of them.
Turmeric Curry Paste
Turmeric – The key ingredient in this curry paste that makes it golden! It’s an aromatic fresh spice used in Asian cooking, well known these days for its health benefits (prevention of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, plus potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant). Looks like ginger on the outside, bright orange on the inside. The flavour is actually quite bitter, its primary use in cooking is for healthfulness and for colour.
WARNING! It stains so use gloves and avoid porous surfaces once cut.
To prepare turmeric, scrape off skin using spoon or vegetable peeler, then grate using a microplane straight into a ceramic bowl;
Kaffir Lime Leaves are the leaves of a kaffir lime tree. It’s used to add earthy citrus flavours into Asian food. Sold at large grocery stores (Aus – Coles, Woolies, Harris) and Asian stores. Dried is an ok substitute (same amount), but I really urge you to try to find fresh if you can because it adds that “something-something” that really makes this “restaurant quality”. Freezes 100% perfectly, I always have a stash!
Ginger & garlic – Essential aromatics present in most South East Asian curries!
Lemongrass – Another popular aromatic used in South East Asian curries & marinades (Thai Red Curry, Vietnamese chicken marinade). Has an earthy lemon smell and flavour, highly addictive!
To prepare lemongrass, cut the whole long stem in half, peel the reedy green shell to reveal the softer white part on the bottom half of the lemongrass. Then slice this to use in the recipe. Toss the green reedy end, we won’t be using that. If lemongrass is hard to come by, you can use Lemongrass Paste: use 2 teaspoons;
Macadamia nuts – These are actually used in place of candlenuts which is a nut used in Indonesian cooking to bring richness of things like curry pastes when pureed. Candlenuts actually have a very similar flavour and texture to Macadamia nuts, though they are rougher. I used Macadamia nuts because they’re readily accessible for me!
Eschalot – Also known as French onions, and are called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh;
Oil – We need a touch of oil in the curry paste otherwise it’s too dry; and
Water – For adjusting the thickness of the curry paste. It needs to be thin enough so it can be blitzed, but thick enough to slather on like a paste onto the fish.
Sambal Tomat (Tomato Salsa)
This might be simple, but do not underestimate what it brings to this recipe! It really brings the whole dish together, adding freshness and juiciness that compliments the fresh curry flavours on the fish.
Cherry Tomatoes – or grape tomatoes, or diced ordinary tomatoes;
Chilli – This is a cayenne pepper which is actually not that spicy. It gives the Sambal Tomat a nice hum of warmth. Easy to adjust to your taste – just add less or more; and
Coriander/cilantro – A common herb in South East Asian food which adds wonderful freshness. Alternative: chives (not the same flavour, but will bring another flavour to the salsa).
Fish for Golden Turmeric Fish
I used John Dory in this baked fish recipe. The fillets are thick enough to make them suitable for cooking in the oven and the mild, sweet flavour of the flesh makes it ideal for enhancing with this relatively subtle flavoured curry paste.
See below for a list of other suitable fish. Any fairly firm, white fish fillets will work a treat here as long as they are not too thin so they can be baked in the oven!
Skin on or off? Either is fine, it really won’t affect the bake time. But the skin won’t be crispy. If this is a turn-off for you, just eat the flesh and leave the skin.
OTHER FISH SUITABLE TO USE
This recipe is suitable for most fish fillets around 1.5 – 2.5 cm/0.6 – 1″ thick. As long as the fillet is not too thin so it can be baked in the oven for at least 10 minutes to let the curry paste cook.
Fillets this thick will generally come off a medium and larger fish. Here are some suggestions:
John Dory (pictured in this post)
Deep sea perch (Orange Roughy)
Pollock (aka coley)
Salmon & Trout – will work but not the best for the type of curry paste (but too fresh and light for these stronger flavoured fish)
Striped bass (not all bass is suitable), hake, gummy shark
Tilapia – the thick part (reduce oven cook time to 12 minutes)
Remember, the shape of fish means that you get thick cuts from the main body as well as thin cuts from towards the tail. Opt for the thicker cuts!
FISH TO AVOID
I recommend avoiding:
Fish that dry out easily when cooked – Like swordfish, tuna, bonito, kingfish, marlin, mackerel. Unless you’re extremely careful they can become dry inside so are very prone to overcooking in the oven. I feel these fish are (mostly) better in raw/rare form such as Ceviche, Poke Bowls, Tartare (also see Tuna Steak);
Delicate fish, thin-filleted, long narrow or small fish – Like flounder, sole, plaice, whiting, hoki, flathead. These fillets are too thin or too long and narrow to cook in the oven using this curry paste because they cook too quickly or the shape is not as suitable for slathering; and
Oily, “fishy” fish – Like mullet and sardines.
How to make Golden Turmeric Fish
One of the things I really like about this recipe is that it tastes like you’ve put a lot more effort in it than it requires. Bear in mind, we’re essentially making our own Turmeric Curry Paste here!
Season and lightly marinade the fish – Sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper, and drizzle with lime juice. Then just pop it in the fridge while you prepare the curry paste. 10 minutes is all we need here, it’s not meant to be marinated for too long. In fact, you don’t want to leave the fish in the lime marinade for longer than say 30 minutes at most because the acid in the lime juice will end up “cooking” the fish like we do with Ceviche.
Make turmeric curry paste – This is simply a plonk and blitz job. I find it easiest to do with a stick blender because of the relatively small quantity we are making in contrast to, say, Thai Red Curry paste where we make considerably more so it can be done in a food processor;
Blitz with stick blender – To make this Turmeric Curry Paste with a stick blender, put the ingredients in a narrow jug that just fits the stick blender head. Then blitz away until it’s a pretty smooth paste. Use water as needed to make it a paste consistency. Goal: a paste that can be slathered on the fish, thick enough to stay on;
Slather fish (that’s a technical term ) – Put the fish on a tray lined with baking paper (parchment paper). Then slather the curry paste on the surface of the fish (not the underside) from edge to edge;
Bake – Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C/350°F or until the internal temperature is 55°C/131°F which is medium, optimum juiciness for baked fish without any rare or raw flesh at all. More on the target internal temp below!
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, check to see the flesh flakes easily at the thickest point, which indicates the fish is done;
Rest – Once the fish is cooked, rest for 3 minutes to let the juices redistribute throughout the flesh. If you don’t rest the fish, then the juices will just run out onto the plate when you cut into the flesh, rather than being in the flesh when you eat it which is where we want it!
Sambal Tomat (simple Indonesian salsa) – While the fish is in the oven, make the salsa topping. Just sauté the tomato with the chilli and a pinch of salt in a teaspoon or so of oil for a few minutes, just until the tomato is slightly softened and warmed through. Then give it a fresh finish with a sprinkle of coriander/cilantro; and
Serve the fish topped with the Tomat Sambal topping.
What to serve with Golden Turmeric Fish
It’s pictured served over Jasmine Rice (I think… possibly just normal white rice!). You’ll find the combination of the curry paste, the juicy flesh of the fish and the tomato salsa topping kind of mixes through the rice adding plenty of flavour so you don’t miss a sauce to douse the plain rice with.
Here are some rice options for you (even a faux-rice!):
cauliflower rice (low carb)
And though the Sambal Tomat Topping adds a bit of vegetable to the plate, for a little extra, try one of these:
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Asian Slaw – healthy, crunchy Asian Cabbage Salad
Australia’s favourite salad? Chang’s Crispy Noodle Salad!
Enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it Print Golden Turmeric Fish (Indonesian baked fish recipe) Recipe video above. This homestyle Indonesian baked fish recipe is made with a Turmeric Curry Paste slathered onto white fish fillets which are then baked, then served topped with an Indonesian tomato salsa called Sambal Tomat.The curry paste is a gorgeous vibrant yellow colour thanks to the turmeric, and loaded with fresh South East Asian curry flavours (as opposed to big in-your-face-punchy flavours like Indian curries!).Sambal Tomat comes in all forms, from complex and heavily flavoured with things like shrimp paste, to simple and fresh which is all we need here – the curry paste has plenty of flavour! Course Fish, MainsCuisine Asian, IndonesianKeyword Indonesian fish, Turmeric fish, turmeric recipe, yellow curried fish Prep Time 15 minutesCook Time 15 minutes Servings 4 Calories 253cal Author Nagi IngredientsQuick lime marinade:4 x 180g/6oz white fish fillets , medium to thick, skinless (Note 1)1/2 tsp salt1 tbsp lime juiceTurmeric Curry Paste:1 small eschalot (~1/4 cup roughly chopped) (Note 2)1 garlic clove , finely grated*2 tsp fresh turmeric , finely grated* (Note 3)1 tsp ginger , peeled and finely grated*1 1/2 tbsp macadamia nuts (Note 4)1/4 tsp salt1/8 tsp black pepper1 kaffir lime leaf , torn by hand (Note 5)2.5cm / 1″ piece of fresh lemongrass, white part only, cut into 1cm / 0.2″ pieces (Note 6)1 tbsp oil2 tbsp waterSambal Tomat Topping:2 tsp oil250g/8oz cherry tomatoes , quartered1 large red chilli (cayenne pepper) , deseeded and finely diced (adjust to taste, Note 7)2 tsp coriander/cilantro leaves , finely chopped (plus more for garnish)1/4 tsp saltCups – Metric InstructionsPrep: Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F (180°C fan). Line a tray with baking / parchment paper.Quick fish marinade: Sprinkle fish with salt and drizzle with lime juice. Leave in fridge while making paste – just 10 minutes is fine.Turmeric Curry Paste: Place ingredients in a container that fits a stick blender. Then blend with stick until smooth, using extra water if needed until it is a paste consistency (ie can slather on fish).Slather & bake: Slather paste onto surface of fish (not underside). Bake for 15 minutes until the internal temperature is 55°C/131°F (medium, just cooked but not raw at all, very juicy).Rest: Remove from oven and remove fish from tray (otherwise it keeps cooking). Rest 3 minutes, serve over rice with Sambal Tomat (below) and extra fresh coriander.Sambal Tomat Topping: Heat oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Add tomato, chilli and salt. Sauté 2 minutes until tomato is slightly softened. Stir through coriander, serve over fish. Notes* I use a microplane for this, one of my most used kitchen tools. More on this here. 1. Fish fillets suitable for this recipe – any firm white fish fillets that are ~1.5 – 2.5cm/0.6 – 1″ thick: Basa, Bream Cod (any) Emperor Grouper Halibut Hoki Jewfish (mulloway) John Dory (pictured in this post) Ling Monkfish Deep sea perch (Orange Roughy) Pollock (aka coley) Snapper, Striped bass (not all bass is suitable), hake, gummy shark Tilapia – the thick part (reduce oven cook time to 12 minutes) Salmon or ocean trout – will work but not the best for the type of curry paste (but too fresh and light for these stronger flavoured fish). Avoid: lean fish (swordfish, tuna, kingfish), small thin fish fillets (bream, dory), long narrow fish (cod), oily fish (mackerel, sardines). See in post for more extensive list. Skin on or off? Either is fine, it really won’t affect the bake time. But the skin won’t be crispy. If this is a turn-off for you, just eat the flesh and leave the skin. 2. Eschalot – Also known as French onions, and are called “shallots” in the US. They look like baby onions, but have purple-skinned flesh. 3. Turmeric – aromatic fresh spice used in Asian cooking. Looks like ginger on the outside, bright orange on the inside, well known these days for its health benefits. The flavour is actually quite bitter, its primary use in cooking for healthfulness and for colour. IT STAINS so use gloves and avoid porous surfaces once cut. To prepare, scrape off skin using spoon or vegetable peeler, then grate using a microplane straight into a ceramic bowl. 4. Macadamia nuts – This takes the place of candlenuts which is an ingredient used in Indonesian to add richness and thickness to things such as curry pastes. Harder to source so I just use Macadamia Nuts which has a similar texture, plus adds terrific flavour. 5. Kaffir Lime Leaves are the leaves of a kaffir lime tree. It’s used to add earthy citrus flavours into Asian food. Sold at large grocery stores (Aus – Coles, Woolies, Harris) and Asian stores. Dried is an ok substitute (same amount), but I really urge you to try to find fresh if you can because it adds that “something-something” that really makes this “restaurant quality”. Freezes 100% perfectly, I always have a stash! 6. Lemongrass – To prepare, cut the whole long stem in half, peel the reedy green shell to reveal the softer white part on the bottom half of the lemongrass. Toss the green reedy end, we won’t be using that. If lemongrass is hard to come by, you can use Lemongrass Paste: use 2 teaspoons. 7. Rice options: white rice jasmine rice basmati rice brown rice cauliflower rice (low carb) 8. Recipe source: This rather unique fish dish comes to you via a chef I know, sourced from an Indonesian chef who used to make this for staff meals. I figure if chefs rave about a dish, it’s gotta be something a bit special. It’s not special as in fancy-pants, but special as in something a little different, loaded with beautiful fresh vibrant South East Asian flavours. 9. Nutrition per serving, excluding rice. NutritionCalories: 253cal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 694mg | Potassium: 1083mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 727IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg Life of Dozer
When Dozer was faced with a Lobster Blini…. Do you think he got a taste test….??
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James Wang is a reporter for Korean News Feeds. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Korean News Feeds, James covers emerging international developments and trending technology related stories.