Fish with turmeric, dill and coconut recipe

Fish with turmeric, dill and coconut
Fragrant, flavoursome and ready in 50 minutes - Haarala Hamilton

I was intrigued by the combination of coconut, dill and turmeric, used together in a classic Vietnamese dish – it just sounded dissonant to me. I took these ingredients and ran with them, then I went to Vietnam and tasted the original. It is nothing like the version I make – texture and loads of other herbs too are used in the Vietnamese dish – but it’s interesting what you come up with if you use an unfamiliar combination of ingredients.


Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes




  • 150g onions (2 small ones), finely chopped

  • 40g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and chopped

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

  • ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil

  • small bunch of dill, chopped

  • 3 x 160ml tins of coconut cream

  • 4 x 200g fillets of white fish, skin removed

  • 1 tsp soft light-brown sugar (optional)

  • juice of ½-1 lime, to taste

  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced

  • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts

  • boiled rice or noodles, to serve


  1. Put half the onions into a food processor with the ginger, garlic, chilli and fish sauce. Whizz to a purée. Scrape into a bowl and add the turmeric and 100ml water.

  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a sauté pan and cook the rest of the onions over a medium heat until golden.

  3. Add half the dill and cook for a further minute. Stir in the spice paste and cook over a low heat for about 7 minutes, until the onions lose their ‘raw’ smell and taste.

  4. Stir in the coconut cream and allow to simmer until it is thicker, but don’t let it boil.

  5. Meanwhile, carefully dry the fish fillets. Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan and cook the fillets until golden on each side. It will take about 4 minutes in all.

  6. Carefully slide the fried fish into the sauce and poach gently until cooked through. They should be firm and the flesh white, not glassy.

  7. Add the sugar, if using, and the lime, and season to taste. (This can be savoury, instead of savoury-sweet, so you don’t have to put sugar in it at all.)

  8. Stir in the rest of the dill and the spring onions, and scatter the peanuts on top. Serve with boiled rice or noodles.