South Indian Sambal


We try to eat fish at least once a week and, I have to confess, I really struggle with making sustainable fish choices outside farmed salmon. I want to choose fish which is fresh, local and sustainable – especially when a recipe calls for a firm white fish. We all love flathead but not only is this a bad choice, it’s also stupidly expensive. And sometimes (as in, a Sunday afternoon after a couple of hours at a 3 year old’s birthday party) your choice is dictated by what’s in the supermarket.

Anyway, the happy outcome of this story is that the following sambal would work brilliantly with other proteins. A tandoori lamb chop, a chicken breast, or even snuck into a chicken burger. Or on top of some fish, if you can find something that ticks all the boxes.

Don’t be put off by the fact that the following recipe contains coconut. It’s essential, more for texture than flavour. If you have access to fresh grated coconut, even better, but dessicated will do (I’m testament to that!).

The sambal can be prepared in advance (and I suspect this would improve it) and can be tweaked to suit your preference. Just don’t go overcomplicating things.

I served the sambal on top of the pan fried fish, with steamed green beans and a generous side portion of spicy fried potatoes. Even with the potatoes this is a very healthy dinner.

The original recipe comes from

South Indian Sambal


  • ½ small brown onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • ~ ¼ cup of coconut - either dessicated or shredded fresh
  • fresh green chilli, finely chopped, to taste
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped (deseeded, if you can be bothered!)
  • generous handful of coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch caster sugar


  1. On a mediuam heat, heat some oil (I used peanut) in a pan, and add the onion. When the onion starts to soften, add the ginger and mustard seeds.
  2. When the onion is soft, add the coconut and toast until the coconut just starts to change colour. You need to pay attention here because burnt coconut will taste awful and you won't be able to rectify things!
  3. Place the chilli in a small bowl. Tip over the hot onion and stir through. Allow to cool slightly before adding the tomato, coriander, lemon juice and sugar. Mix well. Taste and correct seasoning (you may want to add salt) if necessary.
  4. If you're making in advance, store in the fridge, but serve at room temperature.

Spicy Fish Stir Fry


A bit of a wander over the other side of town saw us in a position to visit a different fish monger and perhaps try out something new. In the end, Andy was sent off with purchasing orders and came back with ling. Ling falls into the Sustainable Seafood ‘think’ category because it is often trawl fished which can create stock management problems and significant bycatch. Sadly, there’s no legislation that means this kind of information is displayed at point of purchase so the poor consumer either stands at the counter entranced by his or her phone, or gets home to find that a wiser choice could have been made.

I wasn’t too sure what to do with ling so google came to our aid and we decided we had enough in the cupboard to muddle together something similar to this Korean fish stir fry.

The final dish got top marks for a quick, easy and delicious mid-week dinner. Unfortunately, in this case, it received the thumbs down from the toddler. Despite his initial enthusiasm for ‘spicy fish stir fry’ (which he shouted over and over again) this waned dramatically when faced with the dish. I suspect this was because he was actually full, rather than a reflection of Andy’s cooking!

Don’t skimp on the sesame seeds and don’t wander off while you’re toasting them.  They turn from golden brown to burnt within a heart beat.

We actually served this on top of a mix of brown rice and quinoa which worked very well.  The rice and quinoa was very filling and a great carrier for the flavour of the stir fry.

Spicy Fish Stir Fry


  • ~ 500g ling fillets (any firm white fish will do)
  • Marinade
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Stir Fry
  • neutral oil
  • 1 small-medium onion, finely sliced
  • ½ red capsicum
  • lightly steamed broccoli and carrot
  • fresh coriander as garnish


  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients. Cut the fish into bite size chunks and cover with the marinade. Leave for about half an hour.
  2. There is not a ton of marinade so don't expect the fish to be swimming in it.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the onion. Add the fish. When the fish is cooked, add the vegetables and cook for a minute or two more to ensure they are warmed through.
  4. Serve on rice or noodles, and garnish with the coriander.

Thai Style Fish and Noodle Salad Recipe

Back at home, and recovered from jetlag (but still tired – if I manage to stay up until 10pm I’m impressed!), it’s time to get back in my own kitchen and do some cooking.

This Thai style recipe come originally from Taste, and I was impressed by how relatively few ingredients were involved. By the time I’d finished making it, I was also impressed by how quick it was to put together. I think this would definitely give Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals a run for their money!

I am a little sceptical about how far the recipe will go. Taste says it will serve 4 people but I think that would be four not very hungry people. If you have two people who need a good feed after a day at work – listen to me!

Begin by taking a packet of hokkien noodles (about 400g), putting them in a bowl and covering with boiling water. Leave them to sit while you finely chop some chilli (I used half a long green one) and coriander, and slice some spring onion.

Drain the noodles and toss through the chilli, coriander and spring onion.

Make a dressing consisting of approximately ¼ cup of sweet chilli sauce (trust me on this one – this is something that neither of us particularly like and had to get in especially for this recipe), approximately the same amount of lime juice and a good couple of teaspoons of fish sauce. Whisk this all together and use this to dress your noodles. The idea is that the noodles are served warm or room temperature, not boiling hot, so don’t worry about them cooling down.

Depending on how happy you are multitasking, you can cook your fish while you do all that or you can cook it now. The original recipe uses John Dory, I used flathead* – basically you are after a reasonably firm white fish. I just dusted the fillets with some seasoned flour and pan fried.

To serve, pile some of the noodle salad in a bowl, top with the fish, some chopped toasted cashews and some sprigs of coriander.

Too, too easy. Vaguely healthy (I’m still not sure about that sweet chilli sauce) and very tasty. What more can you want from a dinner that’s put together in minutes?

*Both are species of fish that Sustainable Seafood recommends you think about before using.