Impress Your Dinner Party Crew With Spirit House’s Whole Crispy Fish Recipe

By Claire Plush
27th May 2020

Whole Crispy Fish dish from Spirit House on the Sunshine Coast

Even though the easing of Coronavirus restrictions means that one of the best Sunshine Coast restaurants, Spirit House, is now taking bookings for up to 10 people at any one time, it’s totally normal if you’ve gotten into the groove of whipping up high-quality dishes at home.

Now that you’ve mastered their Coconut Salmon Soup recipe (you know the one!) we’re following it up with the decadent, much-loved Whole Crispy Fish. If you’ve dined at Spirit House before, there’s a solid chance you’ve stuck your fork into this flavour-packed dish with a few friends. And now, you can create it at home. 

Grab the shopping list and add to it all the ingredients you need, because this recipe could become your dinner party go-to. 


For The Fish

  • 500grams whole fish; cleaned, scaled, gutted and gilled
  • Plain flour to coat fish
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

For The Tamarind Sauce

  • 2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 2 tbs red chillies, chopped
  • 2 golden or red shallots, sliced
  • 1 tbs galangal, finely chopped (fresh or pickled)
  • 1 tbs coriander root, finely chopped
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • 4 tbs fish sauce
  • 5 tbs palm sugar
  • 1 cup tamarind water (below)
  • Coriander or Thai sweet basil to garnish

For The Tamarind Water

  • 1 tbs tamarind pulp
  • ½ cup boiling water


How To Make The Tamarind Water

  1. Put tamarind pulp in a bowl and pour in boiling water. 
  2. When cool, mash pulp with a fork and strain the liquid through a sieve. 
  3. Retain this liquid, discard the tamarind seeds and skins.

How To Make The Tamarind Sauce

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound white peppercorns.
  2. Add garlic, shallots, galangal, coriander root—pound to a coarse paste.
  3. Heat 2 tbs oil in a wok and stir fry the paste and chillies until fragrant—about 2 minutes. 
  4. Add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind water. 
  5. The sauce should be sweet, tangy and salty and should be quite thick. If too dry, moisten with a few tablespoons of water.
  6. Simmer this sauce for a few minutes for the flavours to come together.
  7. Remove sauce from wok, keep warm.

To Cook The Fish

  1. Heat remaining oil in wok. Make sure oil is sizzling hot by testing with a piece of garlic.
  2. Slide fish gently into oil, head first.
  3. Using a wok flipper, spoon oil over the top of the fish while cooking. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn the fish over, fry on the second side for about 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully lift out, drain on paper towel.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter, spoon over the sauce and garnish with coriander leaves or basil.

Need an entree for your dinner party guests? You can't go past Spirit House's Coconut Salmon Soup recipe

Image credit: Kieran Tunbridge for Spirit House

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