Fish récheâde

Fish récheâde

Goan-style stuffed fish

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Récheâde is a cooking style typical of Goa and comes from the Portuguese, recheado meaning stuffed. Sea bass or pomfret (pompano) are the favourite types of fish to use for this dish but smallish mackerel or grey mullet are just as good. There are many variations to récheâde but this one does work extremely well.


Quantity Ingredient
5-6 whole red chillies
5-6 garlic cloves
5 cm piece fresh ginger
5cm cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods, split
3-4 cloves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5-6 black peppercorns
250ml palm or cider vinegar
2 smallish sea bass or other smallish whole fish, about 250 g each
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
8-10 curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
sliced deep-fried potatoes
grilled tomato slices


  1. For the masala, place the chillies, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, peppercorns and vinegar in a blender or small food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Alternatively, use a mortar with a pestle (or small bowl with the end of a rolling pin) to grind the spices then work in the vinegar. Set aside.
  2. Clean the tiny scales from the body of the sea bass and remove the fins. You will find that there are tiny scales below the fin area too and these will need removing (if you use mackerel, they won’t need descaling).
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut along the back of the fish, from head to tail. Continue cutting into the fish, easing the flesh away from the bones. Work gradually until you come to the abdominal cavity but don’t cut through the skin. Make sure that you get the flesh off the bones as cleanly as possible. The best way to achieve this is to keep the blade of the knife tilted towards the bones and not towards the flesh. Turn the fish over and cut down the other side of the backbone from tail to head, easing the flesh away as before.
  4. Snip the backbone with scissors at the head and tail end and remove it. Pull out the entrails, rinse out the cavity and pat dry with paper towels. Feel along the flesh inside and remove any loose bones too, ideally with tweezers or with the fingers.
  5. Repeat with the second fish.
  6. Blend together the turmeric, lime juice and half the salt and rub this inside the fish.
  7. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the curry leaves and onion and sauté for about 3 minutes over a high heat until golden. Add the masala and cook until the oil runs then stir in the tomatoes.
  8. Cook for a few minutes and season. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  9. Spread the mixture into the fish. Some people prefer to tie the fish lightly so that the filling does not come out. However if you are careful very little will come out anyway.
  10. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Fry the fish gently for 3–4 minutes each side until golden and cooked through. You can also finish the fish in a hot oven in a baking dish after sautéeing it on either side first. Serve with sliced deep-fried potatoes, grilled tomato slices and salad.
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