Deep-fried Whole Black Pomfret with Lime & Chilli Dressing

White, or Silver Pomfret are among the most prized fish in South East Asia. While Black Pomfret isn’t from the same family it is also popular in these countries and is a good alternative. In Asia it is often grilled over an open fire of coconut husks.


2 Black Pomfret, scaled, gilled and gutted
¼ cup lime juice 
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying 
½ cup coriander leaves 
Steamed jasmine rice, for serving

Garlic Paste
3 cloves garlic
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
4cm piece ginger, peeled
4 red shallots, chopped (see notes)
Salt flakes, to taste
3 small green chillies, seeded

Lime & Chilli Dressing
1 tablespoon strained lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 small red chilli, finely sliced


Make Lime & Chilli Dressing: combine all ingredients and set aside in a small bowl.

Wipe the belly cavity of the fish thoroughly with a clean damp cloth to remove any trace of blood. Score both sides of the fish with 3 or 4 angled cuts through to the bone.

Make Garlic Paste: place garlic, lemongrass, ginger, shallots, salt and chillies in a mortar and, using a pestle, pound into a coarse paste. Stir in lime juice. Spread Garlic Paste on both sides of the fish, rubbing it into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  

Heat oil in a wok to 180°C.

One at a time, place fish in the oil and deep-fry for about 2 minutes, each side, until well coloured.  

Place coriander on plates, top with fish and serve with Lime & Chilli Dressing and steamed rice on the side. 


If red shallots are unavailable, use 2 large golden shallots or 1 small red onion.

Alternative species:

Bay Flounder, Flounder, Lemon Sole, Sole.

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