Baked Fish with Nyonya Curry Paste

Baked fish is extremely versatile, but how about this spicy Nyonya version for a change? 

Baked fish is not as popular on this blog as is roasted chicken. I have usually turned to chicken (the breast, particularly) for quick meal preps and even elaborate meals. I was convinced to try out this recipe after reading about this dish in a Nyonya cookbook. 

This recipe uses a rempah, or spice paste, as a spread over the fish before it goes into the oven. The original recipe called for a banana leaf wrap, which I am certain would have been incredibly delicious. However, I did not have banana leaves at my disposal so I turned to aluminum foil to get this into the oven.

The Fish

You can use most types of fish for this recipe, even the frozen kind (thawed, of course). I used frozen tilapia fillets from NTUC. I am a sucker for sales in NTUC, and these fish fillets were on sale so I grabbed them. This recipe also works with Cod or Halibut fillets. I have not tried this with Salmon or any other such fish; if you do try it this way, leave a comment below on how it turned out!

Did you know that there’s a difference between South and North Indian Fish Curry? Being South Indian, my mum used to make the Southern version pretty frequently! Here’s my recipe. 

The Rempah

The Rempah, or spiced chilli paste, is extremely crucial to this dish and this body of food! The spice paste is very easy to make, especially if you have a blender at home. Don’t be intimidated or put off by the idea of making a rempah beforehand. Making a rempah simply means you chop and blend all ingredients, instead of slicing them individually and adding them to the hot oil in stages. You can make the spice paste ahead and freeze it in ziplock bags; it’s perfect with chicken, or even that odd night when you’re craving noodles. The spice paste helps provide a smoother, thickery gravy when you’re making curry, too!

If you’re looking for more Nyonya Recipes, check out this blog!

Baked Fish with Nyonya Curry Paste

Recipe by Krishy MalCourse: MainCuisine: PeranakanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





Baked Fish, or Ikan Panggang, is a popular dish on the Asian Peninsula!

You’ll need;

  • For The Rempah

  • 6 Candlenuts, roughly chopped

  • 1-inch Galangal Root, chopped

  • 3 Lemongrass Stalks, outershells removed, chopped

  • 6 Red Chillies, chopped

  • 2 Onions, peeled and chopped roughly

  • 3 Shallots, peeled and chopped roughly

  • 1 Tsp Belacan

  • 125 ml Water

  • To Roast

  • 5 Tbsp Oil

  • 2 Tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1 Tsp Sesame Oil

  • 1 Tsp Soya Sauce

  • 4 Lime Leaves

  • 2 Tilapia Fillets, about 150g each

You’ll need to;

  • In a blender, pulse all spice paste ingredients until fully blended into a smooth paste. baked fish paste blend

  • Line your roasting pan with foil and place the fish fillets on them. Brush lightly with oil. Set aside

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

  • In a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Then, add the premade spice paste, turmeric powder, sesame oil, soya sauce and lime leaves. Keep stirring over the heat until the spice paste turns a darker colour, and the lime leaves lose their vibrant green hue.baked fish nyonya spice paste

  • Remove the rempah from the heat, and rub onto the fish. You can use a spoon for this. If you’ve got extra rempah after covering the fish, set aside to cool, then transfer to a ziplock bag and freeze it.baked nyonya fish recipe

  • Meanwhile, place the fish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. But this time, the fish should be completely cooked through. Remove the fish from the oven and enjoy warm with some Jeera Rice!

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