Thai Wok-Smoked Lemongrass Mullet: Delicious mullet stuffed with lemongrass, smoke-cooked with scales on to produce a full bodied smoky aroma that complements the natural sweetness of the fish.
My Thai Wok-Smoked Lemongrass Mullet recipe is inspired by my experience with Thai cuisine when my husband was stationed in Thailand for several years. During our stay in Thailand, we would often go out and order BBQ Tilapia or Sea Bass to go along with other Thai dishes that we like, including pineapple rice and tum yum talay (seafood). In Thailand, their BBQ fish is usually coated with a layer of coarse salt before it is barbecued, and the taste is simply ‘aroy mak ka’!
When we moved back to Singapore, I desperately wanted to try to replicate this dish at home, but I didn’t have a charcoal grill. So I improvised and invented my own method of cooking the fish by using my handy wok instead. To replicate the smokey effect of a charcoal grill, I used a layer of coarse salt to line the wok and then smoke cook the fish over high heat in the covered wok.
The fish I used here is Grey Mullet, also known colloquially as “Orr Her” in Hokkien. When you buy the Grey Mullet, the fishmonger will ask if you want to descale the fish, so just tell him/her not to remove the scales. In fact, it is quite common for Grey Mullet to be sold with scales on, whether it is meant for grilling or steaming. This is a peculiarity of Grey Mullet; Leaving the scales on actually helps to retain the natural sweetness and distinctive flavour of the fish.
What was the result? To my delight, the smoky ashy aroma from this method of cooking turned out to be very flavourful, and my family loved it so much. Even my son-in-law who usually doesn’t like to eat fish of any kind finds it yummy, so that makes me extra happy. This is a very healthy dish as it does not require oil and the ingredients used are of medicinal value.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Baby/Toddler-Friendly: Give toddler the tail section of the fish which is not in contact with the lemongrass mixture, and which has less bones too.
- Child-Friendly: Skip the chilli padi in the lemongrass mixture. Alternatively, give the child the tail section of the fish which is not in contact with the lemongrass mixture.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.