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Saveur Recipe: Grilled Whole Fish with Tamarind

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Basted in a fruity sauce of coconut and tamarind, this grilled fish recipe epitomizes the brightly flavored, seafood-rich cuisine found on the coast of Kenya, in East Africa.

Serves 2-4


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From the Organic Authority Files

1 2-3 lb. whole fish, such as red snapper, porgy, or striped bass, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 green Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 2”-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup of coconut milk
2 tbsp. tamarind concentrate
½ tsp. curry powder
½ ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Canola oil, for brushing


  1. Put fish into a 9” x 13” baking dish and cut three evenly spaced ¼”-deep crosswise slits into each side of the fish. Season fish cavity and skin with salt and pepper. Combine garlic, chiles, ginger, and lime juice in a small bowl and rub cavity and skin of fish with the garlic mixture. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk, tamarind, curry powder, coriander, and cayenne in a 2-qt. saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring often, until tamarind is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove coconut sauce from the heat and set aside.
  1. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange a rack 4” from broiler element and set oven to broil.) Brush fish with some of the coconut sauce. Grill fish, flipping every few minutes and basting often with the sauce, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer fish to a serving platter, serve hot or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from Weldon Owen Publishing

Image: James Fisher

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