Ikan bumbu santan (Fried fish in a spicy coconut sauce)

    45 min

    This is an Indonesian recipe. The original recipe is for an oily fish, similar to our mackerel. However i'm not a great lover of oily fish so normally use a white fleshed fish - either haddock, pollock or cobbler. But any fish that fries well is suitable - mullet, bass, hake, trout and or salmon are suitable. This recipe is ideal for barbecues as the fish and the sauce don't come together until the final stage of assembly.

    London, England, UK
    1 person made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 2.5cm piece root ginger, grated
    • 1 teaspoon sambal olek (or 3 red chillies, crushed)
    • 2 tablespoons salted yellow beans, rinsed and crushed to a coarse paste
    • 250ml coconut milk
    • 1 teaspoon palm sugar (or soft brown sugar)
    • 4 good sized fillets or steaks of fish, lightly dusted with flour
    • oil for frying
    • salt to taste
    • a few leaves of Thai sweet basil, finely sliced

    Prep:15min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small pan, add the onion, garlic, ginger and sambal olek. Fry over a gentle heat until onion is just starting to colour.
    2. Add the yellow bean paste and mix thoroughly, and cook and stir for one or two minutes. Add the sugar and coconut milk, mix well and simmer uncovered until sauce is thick.
    3. Meanwhile heat a frying pan with a generous amount of oil, bring up to temperature and add fish. Fry both sides until cooked (alternatively barbecue or grill the fish).
    4. Place fish on bed of steamed rice, taste sauce and adjust seasoning, ladle over fish and sprinkle with the basil. Serve hot.


    If you are using sambal olek instead of fresh chillies, be aware that this can be very salty, don't add salt until the final tasting.


    Sambal olek is an Indonesian condiment and is just crushed red chilli preserved in salt, this is readily obtainable from any Chinese supermarket. Thai sweet basil is harder to get hold of but is available at some Chinese supermarkets. If you can't obtain Thai sweet basil use either normal basil or fennel (Thai sweet basil has a very strong aniseed taste).

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