Chefs' Recipes

Sunda's fish curry with cucumber salad and coriander chutney

When Sunda's Khanh Nguyen says this is one of the best curries he's had, we need no further convincing.

By Khanh Nguyen
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 1 hr cooking (plus marinating)
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"These recipes are by two chefs, Nabil and Chi Ping, who work here at Sunda," says Nguyen. "They are based on recipes their mothers used to cook them. Nabil's fish curry has to be one of the best curries I've ever had, and Chi Ping's cucumber salad adds a really nice freshness and cuts through the richness of the curry."
Start this recipe a day ahead to marinate the cucumber and fish.


  • 600 gm skinless firm white fish such as blue-eye or groper
  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) lime juice
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1½ 1½ tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for deep-frying
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for deep-frying
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground chilli
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp tamarind purée (or to taste; see note)
  • 90 gm rice flour
  • Fried shallots, fried curry leaves, torn Thai basil leaves and steamed rice, to serve
Cucumber salad
  • 2 telegraph cucumbers, bruised with the side of a knife and coarsely chopped
  • 10 gm (about 2cm) ginger, cut into julienne
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Curry paste
  • 100 gm frozen shredded coconut (see note) or 80 gm (1 cup) desiccated coconut
  • ½ red onion, coarsely chopped
  • ½ Roma tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 40 gm ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 long green chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 40 gm fresh turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • 150 gm ghee, melted
Coriander chutney
  • 150 gm Greek yoghurt
  • 15 gm (about 3cm) ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) coriander
  • ½ cup (firmly packed) mint
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lime juice


  • 1
    For cucumber salad, toss cucumber with 2 tbsp salt in a bowl. Stand for 15 minutes to draw out moisture, then drain. Add remaining ingredients, toss to combine, refrigerate overnight to marinate, then season to taste.
  • 2
    Combine fish, turmeric, lime juice and 100ml coconut milk in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 3
    For curry paste, blend ingredients in a blender to a thick paste.
  • 4
    Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant and oil starts to split out (4-6 minutes). Add spices, remaining coconut milk and fish sauce, simmer over low heat, stirring often, until curry is reduced, holds its shape when stirred and fat separates (20-30 minutes). Season to taste with tamarind and 1 tsp salt.
  • 5
    Meanwhile, for coriander chutney, blend ingredients and 1 tsp salt in a blender until smooth, then chill until needed.
  • 6
    Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 180°C. Add rice flour to a bowl with fish and stir to coat fish, creating a thick batter. Deep-fry fish in small batches until crisp (3-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on paper towels, then add fish to curry. Remove curry from heat and stand for 5 minutes.
  • 7
    Top curry with shallots, curry leaves and basil, and serve with rice, coriander chutney and cucumber salad.


To make tamarind purée, mix 60gm tamarind pulp with 60ml boiling water and stand until softened, then pass through a sieve, pressing firmly. Frozen shredded coconut is available from Indian and Thai grocers.
Wine suggestion 2018 Tonic Wines Rosé. Wine suggestion by Brad Hammond.