burmese tomato fish curry 2

Burmese Tomato Fish Curry

Course Main Course
Cuisine Burmese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Craig Fear


For fish

  • 1 pound firm white fish - cod, pollock, haddock, snapper, etc
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 TBSPs fish sauce

For curry paste

For soup

Seasonings, to taste

  • 1 - 2 TBSPs fish sauce
  • 1 TBSP lime juice optional
  • 1 - 2 TBSPs coconut sugar optional
  • 2 - 4 TBSPs cilantro chopped

Garnishes, to taste


  1. Chop fish into bite sized chunks. Combine turmeric and fish sauce and mix with fish. Let marinate and set aside.
  2. Chop all the ingredients for the curry paste, add to a food processor, blend into a rough mixture and set aside. It doesn't have to be super smooth like a Thai curry. A chunkier texture is more common in Burmese cooking.
  3. Add oil over medium-low heat in a stockpot and add the curry paste. Saute for about 5 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently, being careful not to burn. Add more oil if paste becomes too dry and starts to stick.
  4. Add optional shrimp paste and mix well for about one minute. Add turmeric and paprika and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  5. Add tomatoes, turn up heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring on occasion.
  6. Prepare rice while tomatoes are simmering.
  7. Add fish broth (or water) and simmer another 5 minutes.
  8. Scoop out a few cups of the broth into a separate mixing bowl and add the chickpea flour, stirring well until there are no lumps. Add it back to the soup and mix well to slightly thicken the soup.
  9. Add seasonings, to taste. Start with 1 TBSP fish sauce and add more, if needed. Determine if you'd prefer a little sweetness and/or sour flavor and add coconut palm sugar and/or lime juice. Add at least 2 TBSPs chopped cilantro, up to 4 TBSPs. You can reserve some of the cilantro garnishing individual bowls.
  10. Add fish chunks into soup and simmer gently for a few minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let the fish cook for about another 5 minutes.
  11. Ladle soup into individual bowls and add garnishes, to taste.
  12. Serve with steamed rice on the side.

Recipe Notes

For the curry paste, add one Thai chile for a mild heat level, two for a moderate level and three or more if you like it super hot and spicy. Shrimp paste can only be found in Asian food stores. It's not essential though it's a common ingredient in Burmese cooking. Sub a little extra fish sauce if you can't find it or don't want to use it. Chickpea (also called "fava") flour is also optional. It will slightly thicken the soup.