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Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs

by practicewithdanielle
top down shot of Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs

I don’t know about you, but from my point of view, this week has been shit. We experienced furloughs and my company, I now know friends who are sick, and reading stories of people affected by this virus and watching the news is emotionally draining. 


You can tell me to think positively and I can tell you to bite me.


Perhaps this isn’t the message you were hoping to receive today. 


It’s reflex for us to say “other people have it so much worse“. What this actually does it make us feel worse because it invalidates and suppresses our own feelings. Positive thinking can force us into numbing our feelings and I’m feeling my feelings this week. 


Let’s feel them and move on. 


What makes me hopeful for the future is taking action and making plans. This means finding ways to help others, connect with friends, plan some recipes and map out projects I can complete right now and feel good about later. 

One thing I’m missing a lot is going to a nice dinner. Sitting down at the end of the week with a glass of wine and having something I normally wouldn’t make at home.


Enter – whole Branzino fish. 


Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs is actually very easy to make. It looks intimidating but I promise there’s little to no skill involved here. Making the crispy shallots may be the most challenging part, but you know how to do that by now

close up shot of Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs

I found this recipe for Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs on Bon Appetit and followed it almost to a T. We didn’t have black bass or red snapper at my grocery store, but Branzino worked perfectly. Almost guaranteed to have in stock – unlike the pasta the rest of the country is eating! 

I also halved this recipe because each fish feeds roughly 2 people. Though I learned boyfriend would have much preferred to have his own fish.

The toppings are easily the best part – toasted coconut, crispy shallots, spicy chiles, fresh herbs….you can’t do better.

close up shot of Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs with basil and coconut

Serve it alongside rice and sautéed veggies for a full meal. It’s a really fun dish to share with someone else – picking out white soft pieces of fish over a shared pan – it’s really what I need right now.

By the end you’ll both be picking around the bones and scooping up toppings with your hands. Not exactly COVID19 approved but hey you’re home and hopefully you washed your hands 🙂

Top down shot of whole Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs on parchment paper

Tamarind Branzino with Coconut and Herbs

(start making 40 minutes before you want tamarind Branzino with coconut and Herbs)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or sliced coconut
3 Tbsp virgin coconut oil or flavorless veggie oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings
2 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 whole branzino, Black Sea bass or red snapper fish, cleaned & scaled
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1 cup basil or mint leaves, torn
lime for serving
rice for serving


Preheat oven to 425F and position your top rack so it’s 1/3 from the top of your oven.

In a dry medium saucepan, toast coconut chips or flakes for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, heat up coconut oil over medium heat. Add sliced shallots and cook for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

In the same pan with the oil, add garlic and ginger. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant (don’t burn them!). Then add tomato paste and cook until it splits with the oil (about 1-2 minutes). Add honey and soy sauce and cook until combined, about another minute. Remove from heat and season with salt.

Prep your fish by slicing 2 inch cuts diagonally along each side of your fish. Cut down to the bone when you do this.

Start your rice now!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle your fish with salt, then take your glaze and brush it over both sides of the fish. You’ll want to avoid the larger chunks of garlic and ginger as these can burn in the oven. Place fish in the oven for 16-20 minutes. Halfway through, brush the remaining glaze over the fish, this time you can include the glaze in its entirety.

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with toasted coconut, herbs, crispy shallots, Serrano chiles, and squeeze lime over the top. Serve with rice and a side of greens.


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