Emperors and Yellow Crusted Fish

Turmeric Crusted Fish Fillet. Photo by Doris Lim
The Hokkien prefer to have their fish deep fried, salted, braised, stewed or cooked in curries. Fish no matter how you prepare it, is a superior protein. It contains the good fats i.e. Omega 3 fatty acids which are critical to health, particularly to brain health.
Over the years, we’ve learnt that one of the nicer ways of having fried fish is having the fish fillet smothered and marinated in turmeric. The turmeric forms a thin, salty crispy crust that is at once distinctively savoury, aromatic and delicious.
In Indian ‘Ayurvedic’ practises, Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family; also thought to have many medicinal properties and is used as an herbal remedy. Its positive side effects are active ingredient ‘curcumin’ which gives turmeric its yellow colour and flavour.
It has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, with circulatory system and stomach soothing benefits.
Some people prefer to use fresh turmeric rhizomes, pounded in pestle and mortar and the juice squeeze out.
We prefer the deep orange-yellow turmeric powder that can be easily mixed with a little water or lime juice to form a paste.
For Crispy Turmeric Fish Fillet
1/2 teapoon salt
1 tablespoon turmeric powder (or sufficent to cover fish)
6 fish fillet
Mix the turmeric, salt and a little water to form a paste. Make sure fish is dry, then coat with the mixture, massaging it in. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes minimum.
Deep-fry fish over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until crispy and golden brown.  Allow to cool and drain on paper towels.

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


  1. Hi Doris! How many servings can this recipe make? And is it okay if I add more turmeric/curcumin powder?

    1. I've adjusted the receipe. As mentioned, this is sufficent for 6 palm size fish fillets about 1/2" thick.


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