Thai Grilled Whole Fish Braai With Coriander-Chili Sauce

Thai whole cooked Fish Braai

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  • 1 small trout, cleaned
  • 1 dash sea salt, or kosher salt
  • 2 limes, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, or ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 to 2 fresh red chiles, minced, deseeded for less heat
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Pat fish dry. Make 2 to 3 diagonal cuts on the side of the fish (with the blade of the knife on an angle facing the head). The cuts should be several inches apart.
  3. Squeeze the juice of 1 to 2 limes over and inside fish. Sprinkle surface with sea salt and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
  4. Place water, tamarind (or lime juice + soy sauce), garlic, sugar, galangal (or ginger), coriander, fish sauce, and chiles in a food processor. Process well (or chop and mix by hand).
  5. Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Add the diced pepper and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Taste the sauce for salt and sweet-sour balance, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, and more sugar if you find it too sour. Cover and keep warm while you cook the fish.
  6. Grill the fish on the barbecue over medium-high heat (375 F), or deep-fry it in a wok or large frying pan with 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil. Allow to grill or fry about 5 minutes on each side, or until the flesh has browned and flakes easily. Don’t flip the fish too early, or the skin will stick to the pan/barbecue. Allow it to cook at least 2 minutes before turning.
  7. To serve, plate the fish and pour the sauce over. Garnish with sprigs of fresh coriander and wedges of lime. Serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice and enjoy with a cold lager or glass of white wine.

Fish Grilling Tips

  • Make sure your grill is nice and clean before starting.
  • Once the grill is hot, lightly oil the grates. Fold up a paper towel into a square and saturate it with oil. Use a pair of tongs to rub the oil on the hot grill grates.
  • Don’t flip the fish until it’s completely cooked on the bottom side. This will help it separate from the grill.
  • Use a large, flat metal spatula (or two) to flip the fish. If you’re not sure if it’s done, use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be 65c.
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