Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pan Fried Koral

‘Koral’ or Bhetki as it is known outside Bangladesh is a sea fish with a dry, lightly oily flesh. I picked up this recipe from a colleague’s wife last week. Not only did she share her cooking tips with me, she was kind enough to pack the remaining fish for me – ‘You know poor bachelor who loves fish but has to subsist on Maggi and Top Ramen for most of the week.’ :)

The following is a modified formulation that I developed from the same.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Koral- Whole, about 1 Kg-1 ½ Kg
Worcester Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce
One Lemon
Onions- 3 medium sized finely chopped
Garlic- 1 large clove shredded
Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
Basil- To taste
Ground Pepper- 2 tsp
Fresh pepper corns- 1 tsp
White oil – 4 tbsp
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste


Clean the fish and pierce its sides with a fork so that the marinade can be absorbed faster. Mix dark soy sauce, Worcester sauce, the lemon juice, garlic, salt, ground pepper, chilli powder and pour over the fish. Let it marinate for as long as possible (I kept it for 6 hours). Keep turning it after every hour.

Heat oil in a large non stick fry pan, add the onions and sauté till they are golden brown. Add sugar (The sugar caramelizes to give a lovely brown colour and overpowers the highlights of Worcester sauce and soy sauce in the marinade). Add the fish to the pan and keep on lowest possible flame. Do not add the remaining marinade immediately. Cover and let it simmer for ten minutes.

Turn fish over and cover. Keep repeating this exercise for an hour. In between keep adding the remaining marinade bit by bit so that the fish does not get too dry and stick to the pan. After about an hour the fish will be nicely done (To test if the fish is done or not pierce with a fork, if the fork comes off cleanly, then its done), Add ½ tst sugar to the mix, a little water if required, and remaining marinade. The gravy should be very thick but not burnt.

Roast pepper corns on naked flame and add to the fish. Sprinkle basil lightly. Cover and let it cook for another ten minutes. Serve hot.


  • You can serve this with wedges of lemon that your guests can sprinkle on. In this case I would recommend that you go light on the onions and garlic in the gravy.
  • If you intend to have this as a main course for a traditional rice and fish Bengali dinner, then have a good dal as an accompaniment and maybe a dish like aloo- jeera as a prelude as this one does not have much of a curry. Also, make sure that the earlier dishes are not heavy on oil/ ghee, turmeric or spices as this would dull the sense of smell and the taste buds from appreciating it.
  • Recommended dessert: Roast and grind a small cinnamon stick (1/4 inch) and a couple of coffee beans (instant coffee if you are like me. Scoop out vanilla ice cream in serving dishes. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and coffee powder. The bitter taste and sharp smell on creamy vanilla ice cream will help dispel all lingering fishy after taste and prove a nice contrast.
  • Works wonders when accompanied by a dry white wine, candles and romantic oldies. ;)


Shreemoyee said...

I had not heard of worchester sauce till this post, how did you discover it? I never cook anything fancy for myself, but I can try it when I invite the few and far guests home.

Prometheus_Unbound said...


Worcester Sauce (or Wooster Sauce as it is mostly pronounced) is a tart, fishy sauce and is pretty common. Caesar's salad and Bloody Mary's are common dishes using it.

As for trying it when you invite firends over. I did reccomend that you do a dry run before with a close chum. That way you can complete your minor tinkering well before you dazzle your friends. And lastly, do keep the dessert handy. Nothing like a good dessert to make people forget if there was a minor mishap in the main course. ;)

Prerona said...

you should do a ilish machh recipe!