Ingredients

10cm piece ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 whole fish, scaled, cleaned and gills removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch chilli flakes
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped plus ½ red chilli, sliced, to serve
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon water (or use cornflour)
1 bunch spinach, stems on, washed
½ cup coriander leaves
lemon or lime wedges, to serve.
Palusami is a delectable mix of the young leaves of taro encased in banana leaves and baked with coconut cream. Traditionally baked in an umu, you could replicate the dish in a kettle barbecue or bake in the oven (but you won’t get the essential smoky flavour). I wanted to pay homage to that dish in a fast and spiced-up version, but took into account the lack of availability of taro leaves in many areas. I’ve used spinach leaves but robust silverbeet leaves could be used too. Should you seek out taro leaves, look for young tender leaves, remove the stem and stalk and cook well for 15-20 minutes until beginning to break down. This will ensure that the calcium oxalate which causes irritation and itchiness to the skin is removed. I’ve used a whole snapper, but you could use fish steaks or fillets.

Instructions

1.Take half the ginger and slice very thinly, then cut into slivers.
2.Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the ginger until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Reserve the oil.
3.Cut a few slits down each side of the fish.
4.Grate the remaining ginger and mix with the garlic. Use half the mix to rub over the fish, into the cavity and into the cuts.
5.Sprinkle with the chilli flakes and set aside until ready to grill.
6.Add the onion to the vegetable oil and cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the remaining garlic and ginger mix along with the chilli and cook for another minute.
7.Add the coconut milk and simmer gently over a low heat for 10 minutes.
8.Add the arrowroot slurry to thicken slightly and season to taste.
9.Blanch the spinach in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, drain well.
10.Season the fish with sea salt and grill for 5-8 minutes (depending on thickness) on each side.
11.Put the spinach on a serving dish with the fish on top and pour over the sauce.
12.Scatter with the fried ginger, some fresh chilli, coriander leaves and serve with lemon or lime wedges.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Ellen J Hemmings

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