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Malaysian Black Bean Fish

Malaysian-style black bean fish from Ken Hom. This delicate curry recipe, accompanied by chillies and mushrooms, is best made with cod, haddock, halibut or seabass.


When I first tasted this dish during a visit to Malaysia, I immediately recognised the Chinese influence. However, it had a pungency that was uniquely Malay. Now I often make this tasty, light and satisfying dish, which is the hallmark of the best Malaysian home cooking

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450g (1lb) firm white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut, haddock or sea bass, skinned
3 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp finely shredded spring onions, to garnish
For the sauce:
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1½ tbsp coarsely chopped salted black beans
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small onion, chopped
3 fresh green chillies, de-seeded and chopped
225g (8oz) button mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Cut the fish fillets into strips and set aside. Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat down to medium and add the fish strips. Fry these gently for about 2 minutes or until they are brown on both sides, taking care not to break them up. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Drain off most of the oil from the wok, leaving about 1½ tablespoons.

Reheat the wok, add the groundnut oil for the sauce, plus the black beans, garlic, ginger and onion, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the chillies, button mushrooms and spring onions and stir-fry for another 3 minutes over a high heat.

Now add the soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir-fry for 10 seconds. Return the fish to the wok and gently finish cooking it in the sauce for about 1 minute. Give the mixture a good stir. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the fish on a warm serving platter, garnish with the spring onions and serve at once.

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