Chef Liam Tomlin’s Fried Fish Tacos Recipe

liam tomlin

IMAGE Micky Hoyle

Chef Liam Tomlin shares his recipe for Fried Fish Tacos, including all you need for an accompanying curry emulsion, salad and dressing.


Serves 4

  • 4/5 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp castor sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 360 g firm white fish, skinned, boned and cut into 12 strips of equal size
  • 4 poppadums
  • 1,5 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying

100 g flour mixture (4 tsp each rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour, chickpea flour and corn flour), seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 100 ml curry emulsion (see recipe below)
  • 100 ml coconut & tamarind dressing (see recipe below)
  • 24 deep-fried curry leaves (see recipe below)
  • small bunch of coriander sprigs


  • 3/4 cup curry emulsion (see recipe below)
  • salad of sliced red onion, red chilli and semi-dried cherry tomatoes (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup coconut & tamarind dressing (see recipe below)
  • small bunch coriander sprigs
  • deep-fried curry leaves (see recipe below)


  1. In a bowl, mix the marinade ingredients, add the fish strips and coat them evenly. Cover with cling wrap and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat oil and deep-fry the poppadums for 10 seconds or until golden. Carefully remove them from the oil (reserve the oil for the fish) and shape them over a roll of cling wrap into half-moons.
  3. Place the flour mixture in a bowl. Remove the fish from the marinade and coat it with flour. Reheat the oil to 180°C and fry the fish strips until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and season to taste.
  4. Spoon 3 tbsp Thali curry emulsion into each poppadum and top with 3 fish strips and some salad. Drizzle with coconut & tamarind dressing and garnish with coriander and deep-fried curry leaves.


  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 deep-fried shallots (see recipe)
  • 24 semi-dried tomatoes (see recipe)
  • freshly squeezed lime juice
  • sea salt

Place the red onion, spring onion, red chilli, deep-fried shallots and semi-dried tomatoes in a bowl and mix together gently. Season to taste with fresh lime juice and salt.


  • 20 ml coconut oil
  • 5 g fenugreek seeds
  • 10 g black mustard seeds
  • 200 g onion, finely sliced
  • 80 g garlic, finely sliced
  • 5 g turmeric
  • 10 g Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 10 g freshly ground black pepper
  • 200 ml tamarind water (see recipe)
  • sea salt
  • 400 ml coconut milk

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the fenugreek and mustard seeds and fry until they begin to crackle and pop. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion and garlic; continue to cook for 3 minutes without colour. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and black pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tamarind water and season to taste with salt; continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer and stir until it has reduced to a pouring sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning if necessary.


Makes 100 ml

  • 50 g tamarind paste
  • 60 ml lukewarm water

Place the tamarind in a bowl, add the lukewarm water and soak for 30 minutes. Pass through a sieve, pressing down with the back of a ladle to extract as much liquid and colour as possible. Discard the solids. Use immediately, as it does not store well.


Makes 20 g

  • 500 ml vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil to 170˚C. Add the shallots and cook until crisp and golden, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, lift the shallots out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When the oil is cool, pour it through a fine sieve into a clean airtight container and store until ready to use again.


Makes 24 pieces

  • 24 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 70 ml Champagne vinegar
  • 25 ml Thali curry oil (see recipe below)
  • Thali curry salt (see recipe below)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of castor sugar

Place the cherry tomatoes in a bowl. Mix together the Champagne vinegar and Thali curry oil and pour over the tomatoes. Lightly season with Thali curry salt, pepper and castor sugar. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to the lowest possible setting. Remove the tomatoes from the marinade and arrange on a wire rack over a baking tray to drain. Place the tray in the oven for 1½ to 2 hours. The tomatoes will shrink and become more intense in flavour but should still be moist. It is important that the tomatoes are dried at a low temperature; if the oven is too hot, the tomatoes will become too dry, discolour and lose flavour. If not using the tomatoes immediately, place them in a jar and cover with Thali curry oil. Add a crushed garlic clove and a few fresh curry leaves for flavour. Seal with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The tomatoes will keep for 3 to 4 days.


Makes 2 litres

  • 2 litres sunflower oil
  • 20 g coriander seeds
  • 15 g cumin seeds
  • 10 g fennel seeds
  • 10 g black peppercorns

In a heavy-based saucepan, heat 100 ml sunflower oil over medium heat. Temper the whole spices in the oil until fragrant, then add the bay leaves, curry leaves, ground spices and remaining sunflower oil. Reduce the heat to 70°C and simmer the oil for 1 hour. Remove from the heat and allow the oil to infuse for 12 hours at room temperature. Strain the oil through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin. Discard the spices. Pour the curry oil into a clean airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Makes 100 g

  • 50 g sea salt
  • 50 g Thali curry blend (see recipe)
  • grated zest of ½ lime

Place the salt and Thali curry blend in a bowl and mix together to create a curry-flavoured salt. Add the lime zest and mix well. Store in a clean airtight container until ready to use.


  • 10 g coriander seeds
  • 10 g cumin seeds
  • 10 g fennel seeds
  • 10 g black mustard seeds
  • 10 g Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 10 g turmeric
  • 5 g dried onion flakes
  • 5 g ground ginger
  • 5 g fresh curry leaves

Combine the whole spices in a shallow heavy-based pan over a low heat and roast for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the spices continuously to prevent them from sticking to the pan, becoming bitter or burning. When the spices become highly aromatic, remove from the pan immediately or they will continue to roast. Cool before mixing with the chilli powder, turmeric, dried onion, dried garlic, ginger and the curry leaves. Grind the blend in a spice or coffee grinder until very fine. For an extra-fine blend, sieve the Thali curry blend through a fine drum sieve. Store in a clean airtight container in a dark place to extend the shelf life.


Makes 1 litre

  • 6 free-range egg yolks
  • 20 g English mustard
  • 15 ml Champagne vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 10 g Thali curry blend (see recipe above)
  • sea salt
  • castor sugar
  • freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 litre Thali curry oil at room temperature (see recipe above)

Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, garlic and Thali curry blend in a bowl and whisk until pale and doubled in volume. Add the curry oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously until it has all been fully incorporated into the egg yolks. Season to taste with a pinch each of salt, castor sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. If the curry emulsion is too thick, thin with a dash of cold water. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Go inside Liam and wife Jan’s new Higgovale home on page 176 in VISI’s 100th issue.