Experiments in Cooking

Coconut Lemongrass Fish

I made this Thai-inspired recipe up while trying to recreate a fish stew we ate a few months ago. I can no longer remember that stew’s taste, but I will say that you can’t go wrong with my recipe! 🙂 This is also a “one pot” recipe, and I used my large wok to make it.

Good things always start with browning onions nicely. I like to spread them out to take advantage of the massive surface area of the wok.

I’m a fan of “one and done” as far as how many dishes I cook per meal. Instead of a meat entree and veggie side, I like to stick the veggies in with the protein, and make cooking & cleanup a snap. I loved the addition of these organic green beans. I cooked them al dente to have a good counter point to the soft fish texture.

Adding beans means simmering them in broth for a good 15 minutes before the fish goes in.

A beautiful pound of fresh caught Drum.

Served with jasmine rice, this was a delicious meal!


  • 1 lb drum or other firm fresh fish, cut into 1-2” cube, rubbed with kosher salt & pepper
  • 5” stalk lemongrass (from jar), cut in two pieces and pounded to soften
  • 1 large tomato, pureed
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • half a purple onion, finely chopped
  • small knob fresh ginger, minced. Or 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed. Or 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup water (or 1/2 coconut milk + 1/2 water – if you want it more coconutty)
  • 1/2 lb green beans, chopped to 1” (or other veggie of your choice)
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 lime: 1/2 tsp zest and half lime juiced
  • oil of your choice
  • salt & pepper
  • optional garnish: fresh basil or cilantro leaves

NOTE: using Thai basil, keffir lime leaves, and galangal will make the recipe more authentic, but I find that this version serves me well enough, and saves me a trip to the specialty grocery store.


  1. Heat a large wok. Add oil and swirl. Add onions and brown. If desired, sprinkle onions with 1/2 tsp white sugar for extra yummy caramelizing.
  2. Add the ginger & garlic, continue cooking 1 minute.
  3. Add the beans and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomato puree, coconut milk, water, tomato paste, lime zest, fish sauce and lemongrass
  5. Add 1.5 tsp kosher salt.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes till flavor comes together or until beans are cooked through.
  7. Add the basil leaves and the s&p rubbed fish.
  8. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, until fish is done. Fish is done when it is flaky. Alternately, cut through a large chunk to check for doneness. Turn off stove and squeeze half a lime in. Add more lime and salt to taste. Garnish with fresh basil or cilantro if desired.
  9. Serve immediately with rice.