Pan Fried Whole Red Snapper with Coconut Sauce – Kerala Style

Kerala style fish dishes are the most flavorful and delicious…

One of the best things about having grown up in Kerala is that almost every other day I had enjoyed fish, either as fried or as fish curry, that too catch of the day. We have an abundance of fish as we are surrounded by Indian Ocean and almost all non-veggies are die hard fans of fish. Our fish dishes are spicy, tangy and flavorful. You are guaranteed to lick the finger at the end of the meal. After having such flavorful sea food dishes for many years, I found the fish that are served in North American restaurants to be pretty bland. It took a while for me to get used to that. Well, honesty I am still not used to it and I seldom order fish.

Usually in Kerala, fishes are either fried or they are added into curries and are served with rice, rotis, we have it with pretty much everything. There is yet another way of cooking whole fish, by slightly pan frying the fish, combining it with spicy coconut sauce and then wrapping it in a banana leaf, followed by slow cooking or steaming it. This dish has been a delicacy and is served in most fine dining restaurants. Here is the recipe for making whole fish wrapped in banana or plantain leaf. Any whole fish can be used for making this dish, but I love to use red snapper as it tastes mild and tasty.

This time, I just pan fried the marinated whole red snapper along with some spices. I didn’t wrap it in banana leaf but served it over a banana leaf. This is a much simpler version, the pan fried fish tasted really flavorful and spicy.

Pan Fried Whole Red Snapper with coconut sauce

Ingredients:

  • Whole red snapped, large- 1

To marinate the fish

  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1/8 tsp
  • Ground pepper- 1/8 tsp
  • Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
  • Salt- 1/4 tsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tbsp

For cooking:

  • Coconut oil- 4 to 5 tbsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Coconut milk- 3/4 cup

To coarsely grind (using mortar and pestle or use a blender)

  • Ginger, chopped- 2 inch slice
  • Garlic, chopped- 3 cloves
  • Whole pepper corns- 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili flakes- 1/2 tsp
  • Cloves, whole- 3
  • Cardamom, whole- 3
  • Shallot, chopped small- 4, medium
  • Tomato, chopped small- 1, small

Instruction

  • If using whole fish, remove all the internal organs, scarpe off the scales from the skin using a knife and trim the wings.
  • Don’t remove the tail and the head.
  • Or ask the butcher to clean it for you.
  • Clean the whole red snapper under running water both inside and out, to remove any fishy smell spread little salt on it and rinse with water.
  • Using a sharp knife, put gashes or lines on the cleaned fish.
  • In a small bowl, combine the above mentioned ingredients to marinate the fish to a smooth paste.
  • Spread it over the fish inside and out, cover the fish with a plastic wrap and keep aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • To coarsely grind the other ingredients, you could either grind it in a mortar and pestle or use a blender.
  • Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  • Add 2 tbsp coconut oil, add the ground mixture to the oil.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Add curry leaves and salt to it.
  • Make sure the mixture doesn’t turn brown.
  • Place the marinated fish over the ground mixture.
  • Drizzle the remaining coconut oil over the fish.
  • Cover the pan and cook the fish for a few minutes.
  • Flip the fish to the other side and cover the fish with the ground mixture.
  • If the ground mixture turns too dry add little water to the pan and cook the fish for some more time.
  • Let the outside of the fish starts to turn light golden in color.
  • Now, add the coconut milk over the fish and cook till the gravy turns very thick.
  • Keep flipping the fish to the other side.
  • Red snapper is a very soft fish, so while flipping be very gentle. You might have to use two spatulas to flip it so that it won’t fall apart.
  • When the coconut gravy has thickened, cover the fish with the sauce.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and keep it covered for sometime.
  • While serving, you can serve on a plate lined with a banana leaf.
  • Using a spatula, gently slide the fish to the banana leaf and spread the sauce over the fish.
  • Serve with tapioca or rice.

Tips:

  • Adjust the spice level according to your needs. Add more ground pepper or chili powder at the end if you want it to be spicy.

 

Pan Fried Whole Red Snapper with Coconut Sauce - Kerala Style
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Whole red snapped, large- 1
To marinate the fish
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- ⅛ tsp
  • Ground pepper- ⅛ tsp
  • Garam masala- ½ tsp
  • Salt- ¼ tsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
For cooking
  • Coconut oil- 4 to 5 tbsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Coconut milk- ¾ cup
To coarsely grind (using mortar and pestle or use a blender)
  • Ginger, chopped- 2 inch slice
  • Garlic, chopped- 3 cloves
  • Whole pepper corns- ½ tsp
  • Red chili flakes- ½ tsp
  • Cloves, whole- 3
  • Cardamom, whole- 3
  • Shallots, chopped small- 4, medium
  • Tomato, chopped small- 1, small
Instructions
  1. If using whole fish, remove all the internal organs, scarpe off the scales from the skin using a knife and trim the wings.
  2. Don't remove the tail and the head.
  3. Or ask the butcher to clean it for you.
  4. Clean the whole red snapper under running water both inside and out, to remove any fishy smell spread little salt on it and rinse with water.
  5. Using a sharp knife, put gashes or lines on the cleaned fish.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the above mentioned ingredients to marinate the fish to a smooth paste.
  7. Spread it over the fish inside and out, cover the fish with a plastic wrap and keep aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. To coarsely grind the other ingredients, you could either grind it in a mortar and pestle or use a blender.
  9. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat.
  10. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil, add the ground mixture to the oil.
  11. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  12. Add curry leaves and salt to it.
  13. Make sure the mixture doesn't turn brown.
  14. Place the marinated fish over the ground mixture.
  15. Drizzle the remaining coconut oil over the fish.
  16. Cover the pan and cook the fish for a few minutes.
  17. Flip the fish to the other side and cover the fish with the ground mixture.
  18. If the ground mixture turns too dry add little water to the pan and cook the fish for some more time.
  19. Let the outside of the fish starts to turn light golden in color.
  20. Now, add the coconut milk over the fish and cook till the gravy turns very thick.
  21. Keep flipping the fish to the other side.
  22. Red snapper is a very soft fish, so while flipping be very gentle. You might have to use two spatulas to flip it so that it won't fall apart.
  23. When the coconut gravy has thickened, cover the fish with the sauce.
  24. Remove the pan from the heat and keep it covered for sometime.
  25. While serving, you can serve on a plate lined with a banana leaf.
  26. Using a spatula, gently slide the fish to the banana leaf and spread the sauce over the fish.
  27. Serve with tapioca or rice.
Notes
Adjust the spice level according to your needs. Add more ground pepper or chili powder at the end if you need it to be spicy.

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