The second recipe in our Bushbuck Bites Christmas Series is this Vietnamese-inspired Coconut and Kaffir Lime Poached Fish from Kaelah James aka Kaelah's Wild Kai Kitchen. This is a great way to use fresh fish over Christmas and the summer months. There are a lot of complex flavours going on here, including coconut, lime, lemongrass and mango. This is a perfect refreshing fish dish for these warmer evenings and in true Kaelah fashion, she's made this recipe easy for anyone to pull off. You don't have to be a chef. Have a very wild Christmas, everyone!

The Backstory

We had a superb weather window in Wellington recently so we grabbed the opportunity to head out for a family dive. As we boated out, tangaroa was looking beautiful with hardly a ripple and the visibility was an easy 8-10 metres.

We anchored up at a calm spot, suited ourselves and the kids up and jumped into the balmy 17 degree water. As we swam around there were plenty of fish paua and kina about. Between myself, my husband Mike and our son Kymani we were able to gather a decent feed of kaimoana.

Towards the end of the dive the wind picked up and rain was headed our way. That was our cue to anchor up and head in, but not before a few bombs off the boat to end an epic family day out diving.

The Ingredients

Fresh fish is brought to life with the vibrant flavours of lemongrass, kaffir lime, coriander, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, and gently poached in coconut milk to bring you my take on this delicious Vietnamese-inspired meal.

This one pan cooking method is a combination of sweet, salty and sour flavours balanced in a creamy broth. You could use virtually any fish for this recipe. I served mine with rice noodles, but rice would work great, too.

I top the poached fish with coconut sambal for texture and extra boost of flavour and a refreshing mango salad to elevate the whole dish.

Coconut and Kaffir Lime Poached Fish with Coconut Sambal and Mango Recipe

Poached Fish

  • 6 Fish fillets
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk, trimmed, outer leaves discarded and roughly chopped
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • Bunch of coriander stems
  • 2 x cans coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • 2 bunches of bok choy, ends trimmed

Mango Salad

  • 1 Mango, diced into cubes
  • 4 - 5 cherry tomatoes,
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp Lime juice,
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Coconut Sambal

  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • 1 Tbsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

To Serve: Rice noodles or white rice

The Recipe

  1. In a wok or deep pan, heat oil on medium heat, saute onions and garlic for 2-3mins.
  2. Add garlic, lemongrass, coriander stalks, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice & sugar. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Gently place fish into the broth making sure it's fully submerged, cover and gently simmer until fish is cooked through.
  4. Add your rice or noodles to bowls, then top with your cooked fish.
  5. Add bok choy to the broth and simmer for a few minutes until tender, place into bowl.
  6. Ladle remaining broth evenly over bowls.
  7. For the Mango Salad and Coconut Sambal, simply mix all the ingredients listed above together in separate bowls.
  8. Sprinkle the coconut sambal on top of the fish and broth and finally add a few spoonfuls of the mango salad.

Tip: Keep tasting and seasoning the poaching liquid to your taste as you cook.