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  • Sheena Philipose

Thai-Style Whole Baked Fish

I LOVE Thai food. Even when traveling, I'm drawn to Thai restaurants because no matter where you are, you're guaranteed to get a comforting meal with that perfect balance of heat, savouriness, sweetness, and acidity. When I traveled to Thailand, aside from the delicious food, the locals were also some of the friendliest people I've ever met. This recipe came about after eating a similar fish dish in a restaurant, which I've been trying to recreate ever since. Be prepared for an explosion of the senses as the aromas of the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves fill the kitchen and transport you straight to a lush Thai paradise.

Since this is a Thai-inspired dish, you will need a few authentic Thai ingredients:

Thai red chilies: These chilies are VERY hot, so please handle with care. Speaking from experience, remember not to rub your nose or eyes after! You can substitute with Indian chilies if you can't get hold of these.

Fish sauce: Fish sauce is commonly used instead of salt in Thai cuisine to add the savory element.

Lemongrass: A common ingredient in Thai cooking, has a fresh, lemony aroma and a citrus flavor. The fleshy white part is chopped finely and used in cooking. You could use lemon zest as a substitute.

Galangal: Also known as Thai ginger- you could substitute common ginger for this.

Kaffir lime leaves: Another essential ingredient in Thai cuisine, these leaves impart a zesty citrus flair to any recipe.

Lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, and Galangal are the most prized herbs in Thai cuisine and combined, creates that unique Thai taste!


Thai-Style Whole Baked Fish in Banana Leaf

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serving: 4


For the marinade:

  • Thai red chilies: 8 or more if you prefer spicier, chopped

  • Galangal/ginger: 2 pieces an inch long each, sliced thick

  • Lemongrass: 5 stalks, chop the white fleshy part thinly

  • Kaffir lemon leaves: 6 leaves, julienned or sliced thin

  • Shallots: 4-5, sliced

  • Fish sauce: 1 1/2 Tbsp

  • Lime: juice of 2-3 limes

  • Sugar: 1 Tbsp

  • Coriander leaves: 1 Tbsp, chopped

  • Oil: 1 Tbsp (optional)

Fish: Whole sea bass/sea bream/red snapper, either one big fish or 2 medium-sized

Banana leaves for wrapping the fish (optional)

For the spicy sauce:

  • Thai red chilies: 10

  • Garlic: 4 pods

  • Sugar: 1-2 Tsp

  • Juice of one lime

  • Rice vinegar: 1 Tsp

  • Fish sauce: 1/2 Tsp


  1. Scale, clean, and pat dry the fish. Cut lines into the side and cavity for stuffing.

  2. Chop up all the ingredients for the marinade and combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, oil. Mix well.

  3. Lay down a large piece of aluminum foil (if using banana leaf, place it over the foil), place the fish over it, and sprinkle with some salt. Stuff the cavity with the prepared marinade put some on top of the fish.

  4. Wrap the fish in the banana leaf or foil alone and seal it tightly. Place the fish in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

  5. Before cooking, pre-heat the oven the 180 C (350 F). When heated, take the fish out of the fridge and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.

  6. While baking, prepare the spicy sauce. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and give it a whirl, or just chop everything finely and mix together and taste.

  7. Serve the fish hot with the spicy sauce and rice and enjoy!

Check out this short video and go check out others on my youtube channel!

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