Turmeric and saffron give this dish its bright colouring, while lemongrass, palm sugar and fish sauce represent more classic Asian flavours. Be sure to mop up all the delicious coconut sauce.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (39 votes)


  • 500 g eel, boned, skin on, cut into 5 cm pieces
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut milk
  • ½ tbsp palm sugar
  • 30 ml fish sauce
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 8 pink peppercorns, crushed


  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, diced
  • 2 French shallots, diced
  • 3 cm piece fresh turmeric, sliced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of dried chili flakes

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.


Marinating time 20 minutes

To make the marinade, use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, lemongrass, shallot, turmeric, salt and chilli flakes until a smooth paste forms.

Place eel, 1 tbsp olive oil and the marinade paste in a mixing bowl. Combine well and stand for 20 minutes, to marinate.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high and add remaining olive oil. Pan-fry eel, skin side down, for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce and saffron to pan and simmer for 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Return eels to pan and simmer for 1 minute.

Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with spring onion and pink peppercorns. Serve.