Fried Grouper with Lemongrass Sauce

One of the most fabulous sweet, spicy and sour sauce I have ever tasted. One morning, we went to our local market. There was a food stall that sells extremely delicious varieties of dishes. We saw fish dish cooked with bright chili red sauce, with sliced chilies and lemongrass. According to the seller, it is “Ikan Acar” – or pickled fish, which is basically deep fried fish with red-colored sauce.

The “Ikan Acar” is not the same as the ones known in Peranakan cuisine. This is equally great though. Master the sauce and you can substitute the fish with any other kind of seafood. As usual, the fish is deep-fried till crunchy. It is really really good. We gobbled up the last drop of sauce with steamed rice.


Fried Grouper with Lemongrass

Makes 4 servings


6 (45 g) shallots
12 (45 g) red chilies, for paste, 5 extra for garnish, cut thinly diagonally, mix some green chilies
2 (5 g) garlic cloves
5 (15 g) candlenuts
3 cm (10 g) fresh turmeric
2 cups cooking oil, for frying fish, extra 1/4 cup for stir-frying chili paste
500 g whole grouper, washed and dried well (halved, optional)
2 stalks lemongrass, pounded to release juice
5 cm galangal, pounded to release juice
500 cc water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tomato, quartered


Grind shallot, garlic, chilies, candlenuts and curcuma till fine in a mortal and pestle. Set aside for later use. Alternatively, use an electric blender and pulse for 10 to 20 seconds. Scraping the bottom of the blender bowl to ensure everything is smoothly ground
Heat cooking oil in a big wok and deep fry fish till crunchy, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towel
In the same wok, heat 1/4 cup cooking oil over high heat till smokey. Add lemongrass, galangal and chili paste into the wok and cook for 5 minutes, stirring quickly to avoid burning
Add water, salt and sugar. Cook until sauce boils and lower heat. Simmer for another 5 minutes
Add the fried fish and cook for another 2 minutes. Add sliced chilies and tomatoes
Serve with steamed rice

Substitute grouper with seabass or halibut. Any fish with mild taste would be great for this dish.
If milder lemongrass sauce is preferred, use less chili. The color of the sauce will be less vibrant, add a couple of teaspoons of tomato sauce. That will do the trick

Step by Step

How to prepare fried grouper with lemongrass - Step by Step

How to prepare fried grouper with lemongrass - Step by Step

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7 Responses to “Fried Grouper with Lemongrass”

  1. 1

    Rice Palette — June 26, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    Yet another great recipe of yours! This looks wonderful, I love how you displayed a photo for the steps :)

    btw, one of your photos did not load? The one underneath the word “Instructions”

    • Jun replied: — June 27th, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

      Thanks! The photos is loading properly now. Thanks for bringing it into my attention.

  2. 2

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — June 27, 2010 @ 6:33 am

    Another coincidence between us! After sambal, it’s grouper now. I made Grouper gulai with tauco.

    I love the red colour here, so vibrant!

    • Jun replied: — June 27th, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

      Let’s see what’s cooking next week. Grouper gulai with taoco. Sounds excellent, Pepy

  3. 3

    noobcook — June 28, 2010 @ 7:47 am

    I love food like that… I think you’re a VERY good cook =) Can smell the aroma of the sauce and the lemongrass from here ;)

    • Jun replied: — June 28th, 2010 @ 8:24 am

      My mother is a very good cook. And our family cook is a great cook. I am trying to absorb their talent as fast as I can. :)

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