This is a great way to cook a whole fish and the Malaysian flavours are very tantalising to the taste buds. I used a kingfish but you could just about use any fresh whole fish really.


  • 1 x whole kingfish approx 1.2 kg scaled and cleaned

  • For the paste:

  • 4 x shallots chopped coarsely

  • 4 x large cloves garlic chopped coarsely

  • 2 x tbsp tamarind paste

  • 8 x candlenuts crushed to a powder consistency

  • 2 x tbsp coriander powder

  • 1 x tbsp fennel powder

  • 1 x tsp turmeric

  • 1 x dried chilli crushed

  • 20 grams dried shrimp paste (belachan)

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 x can coconut cream

  • Garnish:

  • 2 x tbsp fried shallots

  • 3 x spring onions sliced

  • 2 x limes sliced thinly


  • 1.

    Score both sides of the fish with deep diagonal cuts

  • 2.

    Season the fish inside and out with a little salt making sure to get some in the scored cuts

  • 3.

    Allow the fish to stand while you prepare the paste. Preheat oven to 220C

  • 4.

    Place shallots, garlic, tamarind paste and candlenut powder into a blender and mix to a smooth puree

  • 5.

    Now add spice powders, chilli, shrimp paste and salt. Mix again to combine

  • 6.

    Turn out paste into a deep pan and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly

  • 7.

    Add coconut cream a third at a time stirring through to combine creating a thick sauce

  • 8.

    Prepare two or three sheets of strong foil long enough to fit the fish and be able to enclose the fish within like a parcel

  • 9.

    Place the fish in the centre of the foil sheets and bend the sides of the foil up to form a rim

  • 10.

    Using a teaspoon place generous spoonfuls of the sauce inside the cuts previously scored then place a slice of lime inside the cuts

  • 11.

    Pour the remaining sauce inside, under and over the fish being careful not to let the sauce spill over the sides of the foil

  • 12.

    Bring the foil together to seal the sides and enclose the fish and the sauce

  • 13.

    Transfer fish parcel to an oven proof dish and place in hot oven. Bake for 20 minutes

  • 14.

    Remove dish from oven and allow to stand for 5 - 10 minutes

  • 15.

    Carefully open sealed foil allowing any hot steam to escape, retain the foil as a base tray as it will hold the sauce

  • 16.

    Garnish the fish with fried shallots and spring onions

  • 17.

    Serve hot on a bed of steamed jasmine rice

Nutritional information

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

  • Energy 510kj
  • Fat Total 44g
  • Saturated Fat 35g
  • Protein 8g
  • Carbohydrate 30g
  • Sugar 8g
  • Sodium 353mg

Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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I have tested this recipe with a 1.2 kg kingfish, which is a thinner shaped fish. The cooking time may vary based on the size of the fish and its shape too.
If you cannot get a hold of candlenuts replace them with cashews
You can also use toasted whole spices and nuts and crush them in a large mortar and pestle before adding the remaining ingredients to create the puree. The result is a more deeper flavoured sauce that is quite rewarding.

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Posted by Huda Abu HamdiaReport
i thought it might be some kind of nuts.. and cashews sound good for me :-) .. as u said, almond would do well too..
thanks allot ngizee..
Posted by Huda Abu HamdiaReport
oo .. it's Malysian .. that's interesting.. but what is candlenut?? i'll google it as well ..
Posted by Huda Abu HamdiaReport
This seems tasty .. love Thai food .. i find it very tasty , but i like to make it my self to control the chilli !
Thanks ngizee :-)