Southeast Asian

Myanmar Border Eats – Burmese Lime Fish (Nga Tambeyo)

This recipe is from Myanmar’s Shan State, which borders Thailand, whose influences are evident in this recipe’s inclusion of lime and coriander. Rachel Ryan spends her time between Burma and Australia running grassroots education programs inside Burma and managing a research immersion program designed for Burmese students to learn in Australia. She is the co-founder of Theit Khar education (meaning ‘dignity’ in Burmese) which is an interfaith education centre based in Yangon that offers civic education, English classes and a community space that promotes the values of knowledge, acceptance and diversity. This dish was cooked for Rachel by a friend from Shan State, and remains one of her favourite dishes.
- Cat Terracini

2 fillets of white fish (such as barramundi or snapper), skin on, cleaned
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice and grated zest from 1 lime
1 tablespoon oil (peanut or vegetable)
1/2 bunch garlic chives or garlic stems, sliced into 6cm-long pieces
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 green onions, while part only, sliced on the diagonal, to garnish
1 large tomato, sliced, to serve
Steamed rice, to serve

chilli paste
1 red onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 red birdseye chilli, seeds intact or removed depending on desired heat
1 green birdseye chilli, seeds intact or removed depending on desired heat
Knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
3 coriander roots, finely sliced

1) Place the onion, garlic, birdseye chillis and ginger and coriander root into a mortar and pestle and crush into a chunky paste (alternatively, use a food processor).

2) Cut small slices – both widthways and lengthways, resulting in a criss-cross pattern – into the flesh of the fish to all it to absorb the paste flavours. Place fish in a dish and pour over fish sauce, lime juice and lime zest to coat. Leave to marinate at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

3) Heat oil in a frying pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, fry the garlic chives for a couple of minutes until slightly softened, then remove to a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and add fish fillets skin-side down (reserving marinade) for about 2 minutes until flesh is crispy, then turn over and fry for 1 minute further. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the marinade and simmer 3 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

4) Garnish with coriander leaves and green onions/shallots, and top with the garlic chives. Serve with steamed rice and tomato slices on the side. If you’re choosing to eat the traditional Burmese way, dig into the rice with your right hand, forming a small ball, then add the fish as you scoop it into your mouth.