Turmeric-Roasted Fish (ปลาอบขมิ้น)

A friend called to tell me he’d come by to deliver something. Seeing as it was close to dinner time, I asked if he’d care to stay for some food. The invitation was bashfully and promptly declined. He didn’t want to impose. He would, I was assured, drop off a package and, having an important event to attend right after, skedaddle.

Moments later, the door bell rang as dinner was nearing completion. As it turned out, a few whiffs of an herb-laced fish roasting in the oven were all it took to derail someone’s plan. The visitor didn’t leave until this fish you see on the screen was stripped of its succulent flesh down to the bones.

Turmeric-Roasted Fish (ปลาอบขมิ้น)
Serve 4
Printable Version
See this dish made by La Plus Petite Cuisine du Monde.

fish recipe
One 3-pound (~1.5kg) very fresh whole fish (e.g. red snapper), gutted and scaled
A handful of assorted fresh herbs (I use lemon basil flowers, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal slices, and a few slices of lime. Feel free to use any fresh herbs you have on hand that you think go with fish and turmeric.)
14g fresh turmeric or 4g ground turmeric
16g peeled garlic
4g whole white peppercorns
4g cilantro roots or stems, finely chopped
8g salt
2 tablespoons (30 mL) vegetable oil

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of foil, if desired.
  • Grind turmeric, peppercorns, and cilantro roots into a smooth paste. Add salt and vegetable oil; mix well.
  • Make a few slashes across the thickest part of the fish to allow the paste to flavor the fish more thoroughly.
  • Rub the turmeric paste on both sides of the fish, going inside the slashes and all over the skin.
  • Stuff the fish cavity with the fresh herbs.
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
  • I serve my turmeric-roasted fish with coconut rice, but plain steamed jasmine rice will do. Oh, and don’t forget a small bowl of nam-pla prik on the side.

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  1. Nat – I’ve never had that. No, this is inspired by a recipe by a friend’s mother whose specialty is fish marinated in a turmeric paste similar to this, wrapped in banana leaves, and grilled.

  2. Oh this is really beautiful! I don`t mind with gutting fish but am not really into the scaling. Still, this turmeric fish look totally worth the effort!

  3. Arudhi directed me here to your blog for a recipe that I can use my fresh turmeric root with. I am so glad she did. You have so many wonderful recipes and I will be back here often. I really like the phtos too! I can’t wait to try this!

  4. the confusion is calling it red snapper – I grew up on the west coast of Canada, and while filing this away as the thing to do next time I have fresh trout, I was thinking “that’s not red snapper!”
    For me, red snapper is one of the many rockfish with a reddish colouration back home – and yes, they are overfished. We usually call that fish yellow striped snapper here… it’s usually farmed (somewhere else).
    Also, have I mentioned I’m doing this the second we kill some trout for dinner?

  5. I would think that this would be wonderful on the grill. There is nothing better than a crispy grilled fish with all those flavors inside! I usually use a wire fish basket so you don’t use much skin. For those on the east coast, Porgies are a good substitute for Red Snapper.

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  7. We tried this recipe last saturday, it was absolutely, positiveley marvelous. And we loved the Nam-pla prik with the steamed rice. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, we owe you one more happy moment !

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  11. Hi, what do you think about steaming the fish instead of roasting it? I live in China and don’t have an oven.

  12. This is the second time ive made your turmeric roasted fish, again a delicious and beautiful dish! Did the coconut rice too. This time our friend had speared some fresh bream. Was a beautiful way to cook it! Thank you.