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Barbecued turmeric snapper with sambal matah

Australian Gourmet Traveller fast recipe for barbecued turmeric snapper with sambal matah.

By Emma Knowles
  • Serves 4
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
Barbecued turmeric snapper with sambal matah
Barbecued turmeric snapper with sambal matah

Cooking whole fish on the barbecue is one of the great joys of summer. For this simple Indonesian-inspired version, most of the prep is in the spicy sambal. Serve with steamed rice and a crunchy bean sprout salad.


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 baby snapper, skin slashed (about 750gm each)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 30 gm fresh turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • For drizzling: grapeseed oil
Sambal matah
  • 1 tsp belacan (see note)
  • 4 red or golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 each red and green birdseye chillies, thinly sliced, or to taste
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Juice of 2 limes


  • 1
    Heat barbecue to high heat. Pour lemon juice over fish, rubbing into cavities and incisions. Finely chop garlic and turmeric in a small food processor with 1 tsp sea salt, spread over fish and set aside.
  • 2
    For sambal matah, enclose belacan in foil and roast on a barbecue or in a hot oven until pungent (2-3 minutes). Crumble into a bowl, add remaining ingredients, season to taste with salt and set aside.
  • 3
    Wipe excess marinade from fish, drizzle with a little oil, then barbecue, turning occasionally, until cooked through (8-10 minutes). Serve hot with sambal matah.


Note Belacan is a shrimp paste available from Asian grocers.