Whole fish Thai style

Whole fish Thai style

Ben's BBQ Bible
Billy Law

The inspiration for this dish comes from my wife and from David Thompson. I have known David since I was a young chef working in Sydney, and my wife worked for David as a junior restaurant manager at Nahm in London, and has travelled extensively through Thailand. Between them, they have prompted my obsession with Thai food.

This dish works best with a nice white-fleshed reef fish — a pan-sized snapper, coral trout or even a tasty bream. It’s best to use a fish basket and cook over the direct heat of coals or gas.

The best and simplest way to serve the fish would be with plain steamed rice and Green papaya salad to balance the sweet flavours.


Quantity Ingredient
1 whole fish, such as snapper, scaled and cleaned
sunflower oil
5 tablespoons Thai sweet chilli jam
2 kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges


Quantity Ingredient
5 coriander roots, washed and chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
5 red asian shallots, peeled
1 bird’s eye chilli
1 tablespoon ground turmeric, or finely chopped fresh turmeric
2 tablespoons ground white pepper
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
2-3 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
60ml coconut cream, (skim the top off a cold can of coconut milk)


  1. Using a sharp knife, cut incisions along both sides of the sh, about 1 cm apart.
  2. To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Rub the fish with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you prepare your barbecue for direct cooking over a medium–high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the fish basket. Place the fish inside then close and secure the basket. Place over direct heat and cook for 8 minutes on one side, then turn the sh basket over and cook for another 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, warm the chilli jam with a little water to make a brushable paste. When the fish has cooked, brush the fish liberally with the chilli jam paste and cook for a further 1–2 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the sh from the basket. Brush with any remaining jam and serve garnished with the lime leaves, coriander and lime wedges.
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