Pla tort kamin - Crispy turmeric red mullet

This crispy red mullet recipe from John Chantarasak is garnished with fried garlic and turmeric, which adds texture as well as pops of intense flavour. Use small red mullet for this recipe, so they can be eaten whole. 

First published in 2022

This recipe involves marinating fish in obscene amounts of garlic and fresh turmeric root before deep-frying the fish, along with the marinade, until crispy and golden. It’s simple cooking at its best and reminds me of the sandy beaches of Southern Thailand.

Pretty much any fish would work well for this but I tend to steer towards small size fish like red mullet or sardines, as they can be deep-fried whole so the bones are crispy enough to eat. Due to the minimal amount of ingredients involved, fresh turmeric root is imperative for this recipe.






In a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, turmeric and salt into a coarse paste


Massage the paste all over the fish and leave to marinate for an hour in the fridge. You may wish to use gloves for this so as to not stain your hands


After an hour scrape the garlic and turmeric marinade from the fish, reserving it


Heat a deep fryer to 160C if you have one. If you don't, pour the vegetable oil into a tall saucepan to a depth of 10cm (4 inch) and heat the oil to 160C (use a temperature probe to check the oil temperature). Add the garlic and turmeric paste to the hot oil and stir constantly to avoid clumping. Cook the paste until light golden and crispy, around 3 minutes, then transfer to absorbent paper using a slotted spoon or strainer. Lightly season with fine salt


Heat the same oil to 180ºC (using a temperature probe to check the oil temperature if you don't have a deep fat fryer). Deep-fry the fish until golden brown and crispy, around 8 minutes. You may need to do this in batches so as not to overcrowd the saucepan. Remove the fish and drain on absorbent paper. Lightly season with fine salt


Transfer the fried fish to a serving plate and top with the crispy turmeric and garlic

First published in 2022

John is the co-founder cookery project and soon-to-be restaurant AngloThai.

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