Fijian Coconut Fish with Tomato, Spinach and Rice

These flavours take me back to Fiji where we had some of the best fish dishes I’ve ever had – though it helped that the fish had only been caught about 30 minutes before we were sitting down to eat, and the coconut milk was freshly made!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Lunch, Main
Servings 4
Calories 275 kcal
Dairy Free, Diabetic, Gluten Free


Coconut fish

  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 red chilli optional
  • ½ red onion
  • 4 ripe tomatoes or 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup basil leaves roughly chopped
  • 600 g white fish fillets e.g. terakihi, gurnard, snapper etc

To serve

  • 300 g baby spinach
  • ¼ cup basil leaves roughly chopped
  • steamed rice


  • Remove outer leaf and finely chop lemongrass; slice chilli lengthways, scape out seeds then finely chop; thinly slice onion; roughly chop tomatoes.
  • Heat a large fry-pan on medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the coconut milk, lemongrass and chilli and fry until liquid evaporates and lemongrass is tender, 2-3 minutes. Stir in remaining coconut milk, onion, tomatoes (fresh or canned), lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar and basil leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pat fish dry with paper towels and remove any remaining scales or bones. Season with salt and pepper. Place whole fish fillets in the coconut sauce, and simmer for 4 minutes, turn fillets over and cook for a further 1 minute or until just cooked.
  • Steam or lightly saute spinach until just wilted.
  • To serve, spoon some rice, fish and coconut sauce, and spinach onto each plate. Garnish with basil leaves.


Poaching in coconut milk and aromatics like lemongrass is a lovely way of cooking fish. You can do chicken breast this way too. The sauce created is fresh and light, but full of flavour and with an unexpected but delicious flavour from the tomatoes.
This dish was featured in My Food Bag’s Classic Bag and received great feedback!