1kg skinless, boneless firm white fish fillets
2½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1½ teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves or dill
2 slices white bread, soaked in hot water and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
60ml sesame oil
3 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
1–2 teaspoons chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
500ml peanut oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
20 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
250g dried prawn powder
2 teaspoons chilli powder (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
125ml vinegar

My grandmother taught me how to make this delicious fish curry. There is no use pretending it is a quick and easy recipe, but it is the tastiest way of serving fish. For a more delicate dish, poach the fish koftas in simmering water and serve as a fish soup with boiled rice.


Balachaung is a preparation of fried dried prawns and is the most popular Burmese accompaniment served with rice.


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1.To make the kofta, finely mince the fish fillets in a food processor, taking care to remove any bones first.
2.Place in a large bowl and add all of the remaining ingredients.
3.Use your hands to mix together thoroughly and shape into small balls, with a 3cm diameter – you should make about 24 balls in total.
4.To make the curry, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
5.Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until soft and golden.
6.Add the turmeric, then remove from the heat and add the tomato, salt and the chilli powder and paprika, if using. (In Burmese cooking the amount of chilli used would be enough to give a red colour to the sauce, but the paprika is suggested here as a substitute for a portion of it, with chilli used to suit individual tastes.)
7.Wrap the dried shrimp paste in a piece of foil and roast under a preheated griller for 5 minutes, turning halfway through.
8.Unwrap, dissolve in 375ml hot water and add to the pan, stirring until the tomato is soft and pulpy.
9.If the sauce starts to dry out, add a little hot water – there should be enough sauce to almost cover the fish koftas.
10.Gently put the fish koftas in the sauce and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until cooked through.
11.Do not stir until the fish is cooked and firm, or the koftas might break.
12.Stir in the coriander and lemon juice and cook for a further 5 minutes.
13.Serve with white rice and balachaung (see recipe below).
15.Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over low heat.
16.Cook the onion and garlic separately until golden.
17.Use a slotted spoon to remove each to a plate – they will become crisp and darken as they cool.
18.Add the dried prawn powder to the wok and stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add the chilli powder (if using), salt and combined dried shrimp paste and vinegar, and continue to stir-fry until crisp.
19.Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
20.Add the fried onion and garlic, stirring to combine and store in a sterilised airtight jar for up to 4 weeks.

This is an edited extract
from The Complete Asian
Cookbook by Charmaine
Solomon, with Deborah
Solomon & Nina Harris
(Hardie Grant Books, RRP
$70). Available in stores
nationally. Illustrations by
Amy Wright. Photography
by Alan Benson.