This dish was inspired by the curries of the Royal Thai Court and the aroma of the paste as it cooks on the barbecue will no doubt inspire you too. The paste can be made several days in advance and kept in an airitight container in the refrigerator.  






Skill level

Average: 4.2 (5 votes)



  • 100 g shrimp paste, roasted in foil for 5 minutes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, dry roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp cardamon pods, dry roasted and ground
  • 1 piece Cassia bark, dry roasted and ground
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, dry roasted and ground
  • 1 star anise, dry roasted and ground
  • 6 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, crushed
  • 6 red shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 kaffir lime, zested
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
  • 10 dried chillies, finely chopped
  • 10 coriander roots, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 100 g fresh galangal, finely chopped
  • 50 g fresh turmeric, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • vegetable oil, for drizzling
  • 2 small, whole baby snapper (about 1 kg each)


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Combine all the ingredients except the oil and fish and moisten if necessary with a little vegetable oil. The paste should be fairly thick and dry.

Score each fish in a criss cross fashion and rub the paste firmly into flesh.

Grill for around 6–7 minutes each and serve with green papaya and water chestnut salad with a nam jim dressing and coconut rice.