Friday, March 23, 2018

Nga Hsi Pyan - Burmese Fish Curry in Red Sauce

Nga Hsi Pyan
The holy trinity or mirepoix in Burmese cooking consists of pureed/pounded onions, garlic and soaked dried red chillies. 'Nga' means fish and 'Sipyan' means 'oil returns'.  So that I don't have to skimp on the oil, I use a healthy oil such as extra-light olive oil in all my cooking.  The other thing to keep in mind is that for the full flavour to develop, this dish must be simmered on low heat for as long as it takes for the liquid to evaporate and oil to resurface.

Any fish can be used in this dish, cut into steaks leaving the bone in, or boneless fish fillets.


1 lb. tilapia fish fillets or any bone-in white fish, cut in bite-size pieces

1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. turmeric 
Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 small onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves, halved
2 dried red chillies, deseeded & soaked
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
Zest of 1 lime
Cilantro, chopped
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt or fish sauce to taste


  1. Cut each fish fillet in 2-3 pieces, pour marinade over fish and set aside.
  2. Bring one cup of water to a boil and blanch onion and garlic.
  3. Strain onion and garlic, keeping hot water on a low simmer for later use.
  4. Puree onion, garlic, chillies, tomatoes, paprika and lime zest.
  5. Heat oil over high heat and add pureed ingredients.
  6. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer until oil resurfaces.
  7. Add the reserved hot water and bring to a boil.
  8. Add fish along with marinade and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Adjust seasoning and garnish with cilantro.
  10. Serve over a bed of hot cooked rice or Ohn Htamin.

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