January 20, 2008

Pan Fried Fish with Roasted Onion Marinade


This week's edition of Coconut Coast, a show in which U.K-based chef and restaurateur Reza Mahammad travels around Kerala showcasing the region's spices and cuisine, featured a seafood dish that was simply too tempting to just watch on TV - pan fried fish with a marinade of roast onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and green chillis! So we picked up some wild caught white bass and decided to try it right away.

And what's more, this recipe from Cochin is a wonderful reminder of the many cultures that have shaped cuisines and taste cultures over the past several centuries. As Sunitha, the cook on the show, explained to Mahammad, this is a jewish specialty that a long-time resident and cook in the Jew town section of Cochin taught her. And on a slightly academic note, the show brought to mind Ashis Nandy's wonderful essay on Cochin as a city in which "precolonial traditions of cultural pluralism refuse to die" (link), a city that is defined by the intermingling of influences from China, Africa, Southeast Asia, West Asia, and Europe.

Here, then, is the recipe for a jewish-keralan take on seafood! The cook on the show called it Chuttili Meen, chuttili being the roasted onion marinade (those of you who might know the correct name, does this sound right? Pl leave a comment).

2 fillets - White Bass (or any firm white fish)
2-3 Medium shallots
1" Ginger
2-3 cloves Garlic
8-10 Curry Leaves
2 Green Chillis
2 tbspoon Lime Juice
handful of Cilantro - finely chopped for garnishing
2-3 tbspoon Oil
Salt to taste


Mix some salt with lemon juice and rub on the fish - this keeps the fish fresh and gets rid of the "fishiness" - and set aside. In the meantime, heat some oil in a pan and roast the ginger, garlic, green chillis, curry leaves, and chopped onion. Grind all this with lime juice and salt.

Rub the paste over the fish fillets. You don't have to keep the fish marinade for long. Pan fry fish till the translucency disappears. Garnish with cilantro and lime and serve with rice and dal.


This is our entry for JFI: Onions hosted by Radhika at Radhi's Kitchen. And for RCI: Kerala hosted by Jyothsna at Currybazaar.


  1. wow! i love the look of that. and am sure the onion garnish must have tasted heavenly!

  2. Lovely! I am planning to make fish ovefr the weekend too and I believe I will try this one. Aswin nice going!

  3. I am trying too many fish recipes these days. This one looks too good. I will try with catfish over the weekend.

  4. Thats some mouth watering fish recipe you have there Aswin, besided looking for ingredients to cook this delightful recipe and I am also trying to locate AZN TV :)

  5. Looks so delicious. I can imagine how it tasted. One question. Can we do this with Tilapia & red snapper too?

  6. Beautiful and very elegant dish!

  7. Aswin, i love the idea of this marinade, it would work out well with vegetarian stuff too!

  8. this looks so good

  9. very nice recipe. beautiful presentation too. willt ry soon

  10. Thanks, everyone!

    indosungod - AZN is part of the comcast lineup here in MI.

    kribha - I suppose any firm fish would work.

    musical - I agree. I can see this working well with a slice of firm tofu!

  11. Wow!!! that fish looks so yummy!! Lovely recipe!!

  12. Ashwin, the fish looks amazing...I'll definitely give it a try.

  13. woww onion marinade fish nice recipe

  14. wow!!!! beautiful presentation...love that onion marinade wid fish....absolutely a grt dish for seafood lovers like me :)

  15. Nice recipe for a pan fried fish ,I can also try making it with Pomphret ,what say ?
    liked reading about Cochin also ,brief but very interesting ..
    Mandira ,tumi onek lucky ,aswin ranna pare ,aamar ta to dim bheje ultate pare na ...

  16. Wow, that looks so good! Great job Aswin! I have never tried a roasted onion marinade with fish, I make a marinade with the same ingredients, but raw... I can see how roasting these will take it to another level... And did I mention how much I love the look of it?

  17. *delicious*! I've never worked with an onion marinade before, can't wait to try it!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  18. I'm gonna get me some fish tomorrow, this dish looks too good.

  19. We tried it. Was easy to make and tasted good.

  20. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Fish looks great, this on my 'next-to-try' list. So this is a 'Chuttulli meen'. Chutta = roasted, ulli = onion, meen = fish.:)))


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