Fish baked in coconut milk Fish baked in coconut milk Israeli Kitchen Photo: Miriam Kresh

Fish baked in coconut milk

Make sure to serve with rice or good bread to mop up the juices.

  • Yield: Serves 4 generously
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

This recipe is loosely based on memories of fish dishes I cooked when I lived in Brazil. I think any firm white fish will do, although salmon makes a richer, more festive dish. I happened to have some Nile Perch in the freezer that was just asking to be cooked.

First, you make the sauce. When the sauce is cooked, put the fish in a baking pan, cover it with sauce and bake. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes of preparation. While it’s baking, fix the rice and vegetable. At the end of another half hour, the meal is cooked.


    For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green olives
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pepper to taste, freshly ground if possible
  • For the fish

  • 3 pounds thick fish fillets
  • 3 healthy spring onions
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass (optional)


For the sauce:

First, preheat the oven to 325° F (180° C).

Slice the onion and the bell pepper; chop the tomato. Don’t cut the vegetables into uniform sizes; the finished plate looks more interesting if there is a variety. Chop the garlic.

In a deep skillet or a pan, warm the olive oil. Add all the vegetables and the sliced olives. Don’t allow the garlic to brown. I put the garlic on top of the other vegetables so that it just heats through while they start to cook. After a few minutes, stir it in and cook everything together until the vegetables have softened.

Add the coconut milk. When you pour it out, thicker liquid will be on top. Pour until you see watery thin liquid, then stop pouring. Discard the watery stuff or save it for another use (it’s good as part of a smoothie).

Add the lemon juice.

Add the salt and pepper. Cook the sauce over a high flame for 10 minutes, stirring once in a while. You want the sauce to reduce and become quite thick. The fish, baking, will contribute its own juices and the sauce will thin out again somewhat in the oven.

Taste the sauce for salt and pepper; add a little more if you like. While it’s cooking, prepare the fish.

For the fish:

If your fish is frozen, rinse it and allow it to soak in water with the lemon juice for 10 minutes. Fresh fish doesn’t need this treatment, nor does fine frozen salmon.

Put it down in a baking pan and cover it with the prepared sauce.

Scissor the spring onions over the surface of the fish. If you have lemongrass, tuck long pieces of the stalk in here and there.

Cover the pan with tin foil, leaving one side open to allow some steam out while the fish is cooking. Bake everything for 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish.

Not necessary, but nice: Dry-toast 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds over a high flame until a nutty aroma rises from the pan. Sprinkle the fish generously with the toasted seeds.

Related Topics: Fish

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