Balinese coconut fish soup is a perfect winter dish.
Balinese coconut fish soup is a perfect winter dish.

RECIPE: Bali in a bowl

THERE'S something special about Bali that we love and why we continue to return there. Perhaps it's the food, the people or the fact that Dan's inner Indonesian comes out with fluent language as soon as we hit the tarmac. This delicious Balinese recipe takes on the flavours of an aromatic fish curry, only as a soup - perfect for a winter's evening.

Balinese coconut fish soup

Serves 4



400g white fish fillets

80ml coconut oil

3 kaffir lime leaves

2 stalks lemon grass, bruised

2 bay leaves

2cm knob ginger, sliced

2 x 400ml tins coconut milk

400ml fish stock.



Curry paste:

6 garlic cloves

6 shallots

6 red chillies (3 deseeded)

4 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 x 4cm knob ginger, grated

1 x 4cm knob galangal, grated

8 macadamia nuts

4 coriander stems and roots, finely sliced

Pinch of nutmeg

5g shrimp paste

2 tsp tamarind puree

3 tbs palm sugar, to taste

2 tbs turmeric powder

2 tbs peanut oil.


To serve:

4 lime cheeks, to serve

1 chilli, deseeded and finely sliced, to serve

Coriander leaves, to serve

Salt and pepper to season.


METHOD: Place all of the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a paste-like consistency. Add more water and oil to the spices if they won't blend in the food processor, or pound in a mortar and pestle until the paste forms and all ingredients are soft.

To make the soup base, heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, bay leaves and ginger. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes to bring out the fragrance.

Then add the curry paste. Cook the raw paste for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and glossy, stirring constantly.

Add the coconut milk and fish stock and stir well. Allow to simmer slowly for 10 minutes for all flavours to infuse and enhance, then season with salt and pepper. At this stage check your balance of sour, salty and sweet - adjust accordingly.

Add the bite-size fish pieces to your soup and cook for 4-5 minutes until opaque.

Serve with some fresh coriander, chilli and fresh lime.

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