Recipes

Gulai Masin Kepala Ikan (Padang-Style Red Snapper Curry)

  • Serves

    serves 4

INGALLS PHOTOGRAPHY

For this aromatic nasi padang dish, red snapper is simmered in a spicy coconut curry.

Ingredients

For the Paste

  • 5 small Asian shallots or 2 regular shallots, peeled
  • 6 fresh red Thai chiles, stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 (2”) piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 (1”) piece fresh or frozen turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced or ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • 4 Candlenuts or macadamia nuts

For the Curry

  • 2 whole red snapper (about 1½ lb. each), cleaned and cut crosswise 1½” thick (head and tails discarded)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 fresh red Thai chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, crushed, and tied into knots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups coconut milk, preferably UHT from a carton
  • 1½ tbsp. tamarind concentrate, preferably Thai Fruit brand
  • 3 tbsp. coconut cream, preferably UHT from a carton
  • 1 tbsp. grated palm sugar
  • Cooked jasmine rice, for serving

Instructions

Step 1

Make the paste: Purée shallots, chiles, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, candlenuts, salt, and 2 tbsp. water in a small food processor into a smooth paste; set aside.

Step 2

Rub snapper with lime juice and season with salt; let sit 10 minutes.

Step 3

Make the curry: Heat oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved paste, Kaffir lime leaves, chiles, lemongrass, and bay leaf; cook, stirring constantly, until golden and aromatic, 3–4 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and 1¼ cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add snapper and tamarind; cook until fish is done but not falling apart, 4–6 minutes. Stir in coconut cream, palm sugar, and salt. Serve with jasmine rice on the side.

Want More Saveur?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.