Turmeric gives this whole BBQ fish plenty of fragrance as it cooks, served with a spicy tomato sambal.






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  • 1 whole snapper (about 1 kg), cleaned and scaled
  • vegetable oil, for grilling
  • 25 g butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • sliced cucumbers and chopped coriander leaves, to serve

Turmeric marinade

  • 2-cm piece ginger, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp belacan, toasted (or 1 tbsp fish sauce)
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

Tomato sambal

  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 10 large red chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 4-cm piece ginger, peeled
  • 1 small brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp belacan, toasted (or 1 tbsp fish sauce)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

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: 10 minutes

  1. Preheat a chargrill plate over high heat. Using a sharp knife, make 3 deep slashes on both sides of the fish.
  2. For the marinade, place the ginger, garlic, onion and belacan in a food processor and blend into a smooth puree. Add the turmeric and coriander and blend until well combined.
  3. Spread the marinade all over the fish and stand for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, for the tomato sambal, place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor or small blender and blend to a coarse paste. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and fry the tomato mixture for about 10 minutes or until concentrated and fragrant.
  5. Lightly brush the chargrill plate with oil. Combine the melted butter and kecap manis in a small bowl. Grill the fish for about 6 minutes on each side, basting with the butter mixture during cooking. Serve hot with the tomato sambal, cucumber and coriander.



Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.

Photography by Adam Liaw.