Thai Grilled Whole Fish With Coriander-Chili Sauce

Thai Grilled Whole Fish With Coriander-Chili Sauce

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 18 mins
Total: 33 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Yield: 1 whole fish
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
569 Calories
40g Fat
48g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 569
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 1530mg 67%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 18%
Dietary Fiber 7g 27%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 227mg 1,133%
Calcium 111mg 9%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 994mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This traditional Thai fish recipe can be made outdoors on the barbecue, or you can pan-fry the fish indoors—it is made both ways in Thailand. You'll love the tenderness of the fish combined with a fantastic coriander-chili sauce, which can be made from mild to extra spicy to suit your taste.

While the recipe is for trout, nearly any whole "white-fleshed" fish can be used for this recipe. If you prefer, use or snapper, sea bass, sea perch, sea bream, or another white fish.

"This is a simple yet flavorful way to prepare whole trout, which is one of the most sustainable and inexpensive kinds of fish available. We loved the bold ginger, cilantro, and fish sauce flavors. The bell pepper adds nice color, but I might skip it next time in favor of more fresh minced Thai chiles." —Danielle Centoni

Thai Grilled Whole Fish with Coriander-Chili Sauce/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 small trout, cleaned

  • 1 dash sea salt, or kosher salt

  • 2 limes, plus wedges for serving

  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, or ginger, peeled and sliced

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, plus more for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 to 2 fresh red chiles, minced, deseeded for less heat

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Thai Grilled Whole Fish With Coriander-Chili Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Pat fish dry. Make 2 to 3 diagonal cuts on the side of the fish (with the blade of the knife on an angle facing the head). The cuts should be several inches apart.

    make diagonal cuts on the side of the fish

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Squeeze the juice of 1 to 2 limes over and inside fish. Sprinkle surface with sea salt and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

    fish with salt and lime juice

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Place water, tamarind (or lime juice + soy sauce), garlic, sugar, galangal (or ginger), coriander, fish sauce, and chiles in a food processor. Process well (or chop and mix by hand).

    Place water, tamarind, garlic, sugar, galangal, coriander, chili, and fish sauce in a food processor

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Add the diced pepper and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 to 8 minutes. Taste the sauce for salt and sweet-sour balance, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, and more sugar if you find it too sour. Cover and keep warm while you cook the fish.

    sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Grill the fish on the barbecue over medium-high heat (375 F), or deep-fry it in a wok or large frying pan with 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil. Allow to grill or fry about 5 minutes on each side, or until the flesh has browned and flakes easily. Don't flip the fish too early, or the skin will stick to the pan/barbecue. Allow it to cook at least 2 minutes before turning.

    fish on the grill

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. To serve, plate the fish and pour the sauce over. Garnish with sprigs of fresh coriander and wedges of lime. Serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice and enjoy with a cold lager or glass of white wine.

    Thai Grilled Whole Fish With Coriander-Chili Sauce

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Fish Grilling Tips

  • Make sure your grill is nice and clean before starting.
  • Once the grill is hot, lightly oil the grates. Fold up a paper towel into a square and saturate it with oil. Use a pair of tongs to rub the oil on the hot grill grates.
  • Don't flip the fish until it's completely cooked on the bottom side. This will help it separate from the grill.
  • Use a large, flat metal spatula (or two) to flip the fish. If you're not sure if it's done, use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be 145 F.

Recipe Variation

  • Instead of tamarind paste, use 1 tablespoon lime juice mixed with 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce.

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