Adam Liaw's barramundi curry with tomato and coconut

Adam Liaw
Fish curry with tomato and coconut.
Fish curry with tomato and coconut. Photo: William Meppem

Barramundi's flavour stands up well to spices and its soft texture is a good match for rich gravies. This recipe is inspired by the delicious Indian-Malaysian fish curries my grandma used to make when I was growing up.


¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

4 cardamom pods, bruised

1 cinnamon quill

10 curry leaves

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 large green chillies, sliced

2 coriander plants, leaves picked, stalks and roots roughly chopped

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 tbsp tamarind puree

400ml coconut milk

1 tbsp fish sauce

½ tsp sugar (or to taste)

10 okra, trimmed (optional)

750g skinless barramundi fillets


1. Heat a large frying pan or saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the fennel seeds, peppercorns, cardamom and cinnamon and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves and stir for just 10 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, plus the coriander stalks and roots, and stir well. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the mix is fragrant but the onion is not yet coloured, then add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well, then add tomatoes, tamarind, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar, plus about a cup of water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 2 minutes.

2. Add the okra (if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the barramundi and simmer until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, then scatter with the coriander leaves and serve.

Also try: my caramelised onion sambal

Tip: The addition of spices to hot oil either at the start or end of a dish's preparation is known as tadka, chauk or tempering, among many regional names. It is a vital step for releasing the flavour of spices.

Find more of Adam Liaw's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.

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