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.

24 Responses to Turmeric-Roasted Fish (ปลาอบขมิ้น)

  1. May September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    I love your blog! It’s beautiful and always a source of inspiration for me. But red snapper is very overfished: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_factsheet.aspx?fid=118

    Perhaps this would work with tilapia instead?

  2. Angry Asian September 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    i can’t blame your friend for delaying his plans after seeing this. this looks amazing.

    do you do your own scaling & gutting?

  3. The Duo Dishes September 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    When the kitchen smells good, how does one leave? A simple, easy and of course gorgeous presentation for any guest.

  4. Admin September 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    May – It sure would.

  5. Nat September 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Is this at all like or inspired by the Hanoi turmeric dill fish specialty Cha Ca Thang Long?

  6. Admin September 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    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.

  7. raquel erecipe September 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Cool photos and great recipe…Nice =)

  8. Soma September 22, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    I would stay by too 🙂 This is so wonderfully flavored. I was thinking coconut rice as I was reading thru it, until I read you mentioned it too!

  9. kankana September 22, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    If only I could convince my husband to eat fish with skin ! This is making me miss home .

  10. Arudhi September 23, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    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!

  11. Lyndsey September 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    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!

  12. Anonymous September 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    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?

  13. Rick September 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Looks amazing Leela, its no wonder his plans were postponed… lucky guy…

  14. foodhoe September 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    wow, the fish is so colorful and with those fragrant spices no wonder your friend was hypnotized!

  15. Stefania September 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    E’ molto bello, ciao

  16. luvwtr October 7, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    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.

  17. Claire January 14, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    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 !

  18. Ana C. April 13, 2013 at 2:48 am #

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

  19. Yvette August 16, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    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.


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