The 50th Anniversary Issue

Our 50th birthday issue is on sale now. We're celebrating five decades of great food and travel with our biggest issue yet.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 27th November, 2016 and receive a Villeroy & Boch platter!

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Watermelon with crisp fish

You'll need

200 gm flathead or snapper fillet, or other white firm-fleshed fish For deep-frying: vegetable oil 1.5 kg seedless watermelon, cut into 2cm squares 2 tbsp fried shallots To serve: Thai basil   Coconut dressing 40 gm (½ cup) desiccated coconut 1 tbsp dried prawns 110 gm (½ cup) white sugar 2 tbsp maltose (see note) 3-4 long red chillies, coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves, bruised 2 coriander roots 2 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste 1 tbsp rice vinegar 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped


  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Rub fish with 3 tsp sea salt, place on a lightly oiled wire rack in a roasting pan. Roast until golden (30-40 minutes), cool, transfer to a food processor, pulse until fish resembles fine crumbs (don’t over-process or the fish won’t puff when fried).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for coconut dressing, spread coconut on an oven tray and roast, stirring occasionally, until golden (3-4 minutes), set aside. Dry-roast prawns until crisp (1-2 minutes), finely chop, set aside. Combine sugar, maltose, chilli, garlic, coriander root and 125ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer until syrupy (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, add fish sauce and vinegar, discard coriander root, cool to room temperature. Process in a food processor until smooth (1-2 minutes), add coconut, prawn and ginger, season to taste, set aside.
  • 03
  • Preheat oil in wok to 170C. Add a handful of fish (be careful as hot oil may spit). It will immediately form a raft or nest. Pull fish toward you with a slotted spoon, then, when oil stops bubbling, turn and fry until golden (3-4 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper, repeat with remaining fish.
  • 04
  • Combine watermelon and coconut dressing to taste in a bowl, toss lightly to combine, arrange on serving plates, scatter with fried shallot, basil and crisp fish and serve.

Note Maltose (also known as malt syrup) is available from health food shops and select Asian supermarkets.

"This is what I call modern South-east Asian food. The recipe came about one hot afternoon in Thailand when I was eating a delicious traditional dish called yam pla fuu, crisp fish salad with green mango. In Malaysia, we tend to use dry-roasted coconut in many of our salads, including a lovely salad made with watermelon rind. The idea of combining these two cooking styles kept plaguing me and the following recipe was born. Thai flavours, Malaysian innovation and Singaporean modernity are all represented in this dish. It also works well as finger food."

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Jan 2010

You might also like...

Fast seafood recipes


Kingfish and scallop ceviche with tomato oil

10 fish recipes for Good Friday


Pan-fried John Dory agrodolce with endive and goat’s cheese

Cooking with wine


Indian-style prawn, turmeric and okra curry

Recipes with scallops


Sri Lankan snapper curry with basmati rice and yoghurt

Fresh chilli recipes


Steamed flounder with shallot and chilli dressing

Fast seafood recipes


Steamed black mussels with tomato sofrito and chorizo

Tuna and artichoke salad nicoise


conversion tool

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.