Thursday, 18 December 2014


I love Asian food, Thai and Vietnamese are my favourites.  However, when I cook an "Asian dish" I will not be able to tell you what cuisine I am following exactly.  As the name of my blog suggests, I am a cosmopolitan cook with a strong Eastern European background, however if you raid my pantry, you will find the usual suspects from the Asian food aisle of my local supermarket:  soy and fish sauces, brown sugar, tamarind paste, lime juice, sesame oil and few others items that define my Asian menu.  My main purpose is not to adhere to one particular cuisine but rather use usual flavours to spice up otherwise same old, same old dishes and add some excitement to everyday's meals.

barramundi fish with asian flavours

However, one thing I learned while watching cooking shows is that the key to Asian cooking is the importance of balancing the flavours of sweet and sour, salty and pungent and that is my aim.This may sound quite vague to you, but I have a good reason for it being that I can't always be certain on what cuisine I am cooking simply because I find that is not easy to stick to any one in particular.  What I do know is that once I replaced salt and pepper for soy or fish sauce and chilies, I stepped away from continental cooking and was on the verge of entering into the world of aromatic spices, bunches of fresh exotic herbs and delicious flavours.

The recipe of the dish I am about to share with you requires the use of herbs and spices that are easily found in the Asian aisle of your local supermarket or at the fresh vegetables section.

To feed 8 people you need:
3-4 barramundi fillets, about 15-200 gr per person
1 tbs of coriander seeds
1/2 tsp of tumeric (it gives the fish a beautiful saffron colour)
1 small red chili (fresh or flakes)
2 tbs of soy sauce
1 tsp of grated ginger
1 tbs of tamarind paste
2 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 bunches of bok choy washed and trimmed
3 tbs of fish sauce
2 tsp of brown sugar
1/2 cup of coriander leaves finely chopped

I normally buy three fillets for my family of four based on the fact that each person gets one half of the fillet and if someone wants seconds, there’s the third fillet, otherwise some lucky person will get it for lunch the next day.  In other words, it all depends on whether your family members are big or small eaters.


Heat a pan on top of the stove and warm up the coriander seeds for a few minutes to release their flavour, then crush them in a mortar and pestle.   In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the bok choy, and a taste it. Make sure that the sweetness and sourness are balanced and the salt and hit are in good measure.

Place the fish into the bowl and massage the mixture into it. Leave it to marinate for an hour or, if time allows, even overnight, .

barramundi with asian flavors

When the time comes to cook the fish, you can either do it on a barbecue or in the oven. Both methods are good but I prefer to do it on the barbecue, one- to get that extra smokey flavour and two- avoid the fish smell in your kitchen.

Option1. Pre-heat your barbecue to 180c. Take a roll of cooking aluminium foil and cut as many pieces as you have fish.  Trim and wash bok choy and place a couple of leaves on each piece, then place a piece of fish on top, spoon a bit of sauce, fold into a parcel securing the edges as you go.

Place on the preheated BBQ and grill for about 10 min.  Open up slightly one of the parcels and pry open the flesh to see if it is cooked.  Bear in mind that the fish will continue cooking after you take it off.

Once cooked, remove the fish and bok choy from the parcels onto warm plates.  For a casual family dinner, I like to place the fish onto a big serving plate and place it in the middle of the table next to a big bowl of Asian style coleslaw (link) for everyone to share.  For a more official occasion, I suggest individual plating. 

Option 2. Pre-heat the oven at 180c, cover an oven tray with the sheet of aluminium foil, lay it with the washed and trimmed bok choy and place the fish on top.  Spoon the dressing and place in the oven for about 10-15 min.  After 10 min, take a fork and pry open the thickest part of the fish.  It should be slightly pink and translucent. Remove from the oven.  Serve as above.  

Serve the fish with the Asian slaw.  Enjoy!!!

1 comment:

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