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Cooked curried fish on a mesh rack Kris Kirkham
August 2022
Reading time 3 Minutes

This is recipe guaranteed to be delicious

The paste used in this recipe is ideal for stuffing fish, meat and vegetables but it can also be used as a marinade. Recheado masala is a Portuguese-inspired recipe from Goa, recheado meaning 'stuffed'. It is much more common to fry recheado fish but I like to char it over the fire. If you would like to fry it, just cover the bottom of a frying pan with oil and fry over direct heat until cooked through and crispy on both sides.
Preparation Time
15 minutes, plus soaking time
Cooking Time
10 Minutes
  • 1kg (2lb 4oz) fish such as sardines or mackerel, fins snipped off
  • Flaky sea salt, to serve
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • 25 dried Kashmiri chillies, roughly chopped (remove the seeds if you don’t want it super-hot)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 70ml palm vinegar (or white wine or cider vinegar)
  • Salt, to taste

Place the fish on a board and scrape as much moisture out of the skin as you can using a sharp knife, then score the fish a few times on each side. Cover and place in the fridge while you prepare the marinade.

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and toast the chillies for about two minutes until fragrant. Be sure to move them around in the pan so that they toast evenly, then tip into a bowl and cover with water.

Let stand for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the whole spices in the same pan over a medium heat until fragrant but not yet smoking and then transfer to a plate to cool.

Next, pour the oil into the pan and fry the onions over a medium heat for about seven minutes until soft, transparent and lightly caramelised. Pour the fried onions, drained chillies, toasted whole spices and the remaining ingredients apart from the salt into a spice grinder or blender and blend to a smooth paste. The recheado paste should be quite red. If you want it to be more red, you could add more paprika or even some more toasted chillies. Taste and add salt if you wish. You could also add a little more sugar if you want it sweeter.

Rub the paste all over and inside the fish, ensuring that you get the marinade right into the slits you made. Set to one side to marinate while you fire up the grill.

Many people use fish baskets to grill fish on the barbecue and if you have one, you could definitely use it here as I did in the photograph opposite; however, you could also cook the fish without a basket. Prepare a hot, direct heat fire, lightly brush the cooking grate with oil and when it is uncomfortable to hold your hand five centimetres above the grill for more than two seconds, place your fish on it. Grill on one side until the fish comes away from the grill naturally and without sticking. A good metal spatula will help with this but don’t force it. The fish will come away once the skin has charred a bit. Flip and cook the other side until equally charred. Check; if by chance the fish isn’t completely cooked through, just continue cooking for a couple more minutes. Depending on how charred the skin is, you might want to continue cooking over a cooler part of the fire.

Sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and serve with lemon wedges.

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