Pan Fried Whole Red Snapper In Coconut Gravy – 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 snapper, large- 1

To marinate the fish

  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1/8 tsp
  • Ground black pepper- 1/4 tsp
  • Garam masala- 1 tsp
  • Salt- 3/4  tsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tbsp

For cooking

  • Coconut oil- 1/4 cup
  • 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 black pepper corns- 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili flakes- 1/2 tsp
  • Cloves, whole- 3
  • Green Cardamom, whole- 3
  • Shallot, chopped small- 4 (or use 7 small/pearl onions)
  • Tomato, chopped small- 1
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp

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.
  • 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 and keep it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • To coarsely grind, 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.
  • 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 over to the other side, spread the ground mixture over the fish.
  • If the ground mixture turns too dry add a few tablespoons of 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 thickens.
  • 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 gravy.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and keep it covered for a few minutes.
  • 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 gravy over the fish.
  • Serve with tapioca or rice.

Tips:

  • Adjust the spice level according to your needs. Add more ground pepper or chili powder for more spice.

 

Pan Fried Whole Red Snapper with Coconut Sauce - Kerala Style
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Whole red snapped, large- 1 (or use pomfret)
To marinate the fish
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- ⅛ tsp
  • Ground black pepper- ¼ tsp
  • Garam masala- 1 tsp
  • Salt- ¾ tsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
For cooking
  • Coconut oil- ¼ cup
  • 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
  • Green Cardamom, whole- 3
  • Shallots, chopped small- 4 (or use 7 small/pearl onions)
  • Tomato, chopped small- 1
Instructions
  1. If using whole fish, remove all the internal organs, scrape 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.
  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 and keep in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  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.
  13. Make sure the mixture doesn't turn brown.
  14. Place the marinated fish over the ground mixture.
  15. Add the remaining coconut oil over the fish.
  16. Cover the pan, 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 a few tablespoons of 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, spread the gravy over the fish.
  24. Remove the pan from the heat and keep it covered for a few minutes.
  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 gravy 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 for more spice.