Bhutanese Style Curried Fish With Oranges Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo

I wrote yesterday about having been inspired by pictures of people's weekly groceries from around the worldb to want to explore the cuisines of various cultures around the world, specifically to check out Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, and Bhutanese recipes.

Bhutanese recipes, I've discovered, are difficult to find on the internet, and many of the ones that I found are very dairy heavy, and therefore not really something I can make. I found this recipe, and it seemed really interesting and original- I've never had fish with ginger and oranges, and I like to vary up my diet by making fish instead of chicken (my two main protein staples, as eggs and dairy and legumes are out, and beef is very expensive), but I'm less creative with fish, and can't always think of tasty ways to eat fish, so end up doing the same boring fish recipes over and over, and this seemed like a welcome change. It seemed flavorful enough to use with lower quality and cheaper white fish.

The thing is- I couldn't do the recipe exactly as written. I can't use butter, I don't know where to get perilla seeds, and even if I did, I knew they wouldn't exactly be so cheap. Doing some searches online, I got the idea that ground sesame seeds might possibly work as a substitute (since perilla is also known as wild sesame) but I could be totally off about that, since I have never tasted perilla seeds. So I used ground sesame seeds in this recipe, which certainly makes it less authentic but it still tastes terrific. And instead of the butter, I used coconut oil in mine. And since I currently am out of fish broth, I decided to play around with the recipe to eliminate that. And since I have no szechuan peppercorns, I used regular black pepper as a substitute.

And so, here's the recipe that I was left with. I'm not claiming that it actually is authentic, however it is strongly inspired by Bhutanese curried fish. It tastes amazing. Amazing enough that I made it twice in one week, since once was not nearly enough. The first time I made it with my chum salmon, and the second time was with cheapo white fish (I think cod), and it was phenomenal both ways. There is a lot of sauce, so I liked to take a spoon of sauce with each bite of fish, and when the fish was finished, just ate up the sauce with a spoon- it is delectable!

I'm so excited to have discovered this new way to make my fish, especially being that I was able to make it all with foods I already had in my house and that I bought cheaply. Score!
The first time I made it without cilantro, the second time with. It is just as good both ways, so if you don't have any fresh cilantro, feel free to leave it out- it's still great that way.

Added bonus- this recipe is paleo, gluten free, and GAPS diet friendly, in addition to being refined sugar free.

Bhutanese Style Curried Fish With Oranges Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, butter, or other oil of choice
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
1 1/2 oranges juiced- approximately 1/2 cup
1 large tomato
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1-2 lbs of fish of choice, filleted or left whole if they are small.
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1-3 teaspoons ground sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
Up to 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped (optional)

1. Chop up your onions into crescents, and saute them in your oil on a medium heat, until starting to brown and caramelize.

2. Mince your garlic, and add that and your ginger to the onions, and cook it until browned.

3. Chop your tomatoes and add them and your orange juice to the pan, and cook until the tomatoes have softened.

4. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, mix it in, and then add your fish to the pan, spooning the sauce over the fish to cover it.

5. Cook covered for about 5 minutes, turn over the fish and scoop the sauce onto it again, then cook until the fish has completely changed color and flakes easily. Depending on the fish, this may be just a few more minutes.

6. Add your ground sesame seeds and cilantro to the mixture.

7. Serve hot.


Have you ever made or eaten any Bhutanese dishes before? What were they?
If you've eaten shiso seeds, can you share what they taste like, and what you think the best substitute for them would be?

Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. This sounds great...I'll try it this week. Thanks!

  2. thanks for posting this sounds interesting something unusual for me was that such few spices but am sure it will be delicious have to wait till I can buy some fish

  3. In Bangladesh we cook koi fish with tangerines but your recipe is quite different as we use more spices plan to make it tomorrow

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