Sesame Baked Fish with a Hot Ginger Marinade

Although tropical varieties of fish are found increasingly frequently in supermarkets, oriental food stores usually have a wider selection suitable for this Malaysian dish.


serves 4 - 6
2 red snapper, parrot fish or monkfish tails, each weighing about 350 g (12 oz)
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
10 ml (2 tsp) sesame oil
30 ml (2 tbsp) sesame seeds
2.5 cm (1 in) fresh root ginger, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
30 ml (2 tbsp) water
1 cm (1/2 in) square shrimp paste or 15 ml (1 tbsp) fish sauce
10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) cracked black pepper
juice of 2 limes
3 - 4 banana leaves (optional)


1. Clean and dry the fish well. Slash both sides of the fish deeply with a sharp knife. If using parrot fish, rub with fine salt and leave to stand for 15 minutes to remove the rather chalky coral flavour.

2. To make the marinade, heat the vegetable and sesame oils in a preheated wok. Add the sesame seeds and fry until golden. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies and shallots or onion and stir-fry 1 - 2 minutes, until softened. Add the water, shrimp paste or fish sauce, sugar, pepper and lime juice and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

3. If using banana leaves, remove and discard the central stems. Soften the leaves by dipping them in boiling water. To keep them supple, rub the surfaces with vegetable oil. Spread the sesame seed marinade over the fish, then wrap them separately in the banana leaves, secured with a skewer, or enclose them in foil. Set aside in a cool place to allow the flavours to mingle, for up to 3 hours.

4. Place the fish parcels on a baking sheet and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 or on a glowing barbecue for 35 - 40 minutes. Serve hot.

Banana leaves are available from Indian and South-east Asian food stores.

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