This one’s for the Health Mafia: Oil free grilled Peri Peri Kingfish/ Surmai with grilled balsamic mushrooms & couscous


Going to the fish market makes me happy. Just as eating pork does.

I went to the Khar Fish Market on Saturday afternoon. I had booked a large caatla with Poonam. As I waited for her to cut and de-scale my fish I saw her carve out surmai or kingfish steaks for someone else. These looked interesting.

I’ve been using our OTG to grill meats quite a bit ever since we bought it.

Coming back from work, marinating meat, going to the gym and walking on the treadmill to Nigella’s Kitchen on TV, coming back, switching on the grill, dinner. Life suddenly seemed so easy and tasty. I’d largely stuck to chicken and avoided red meats as an allowance to the health mafia. Never tried fish though. This seemed a good opportunity. So I picked up about 600 g Kingfish or Surmai which Poonam’s sister Sangeeta cut in to two boneless meaty steaks.

The original plan was to cook it in a tried and tested Peri Peri sauce and lime marinate. Then I opened the the fridge and saw a tube of wasabi that was there. For a moment I thought of using a wasabi, Teriyaki and ginger marinate.

I was confused and put up my dilemma on twitter and facebook. The unanimous verdict was for lime and peri peri. So The Social Network decided our dinner. Which is not as scary as it sounds. (scroll to the end for the chatter)

I wasn’t too sure of how long the fish should be cooked. So I called up Gia who, apart from being the ‘Goddess Baker’, is a genius cook too. Last week she’d made me some pork belly, pork chops and fried chicken which turned out to be Master Class in meat cooking for me. The texture, tenderness and spring in the meats she cooked that that day were nonpareil.

Gia asked me what fish I was going to cook and what their weight was and then gave her verdict.

“Fifteen minutes at 180 degree centigrade, no need to cover the dish. Turn once in between”.

I followed that. Worked beautifully.

To compliment the dish I grilled mushroom during the same time in the oven and made some couscous from a ready to make pack.

Dinner came together pretty nicely. The fish cooked perfectly and had browned despite not having any oil in it. The surface had a nice texture. The inside of the fish had cooked well but honestly surmai steaks are a bit too chunky and spinsterish for me. Worked better for K apparently. Still was happy to have got fish right in the first attempt at the grill thanks to Gia’s tips.

The grilled mushroom gave a nice lively bouncy contrast to the demure fish and the couscous a nice bed on which the dinner rested.

600 g of surmai cost me about Rs 250 (5 USD) with a bit of discount and we got two portions out of it which was a pretty good deal. And with no effort at all.

Here are the recipes:

Surmai or Kingfish Peri Peri grill:


surmai kingfishmarinated surmai  SONY DSC

  • Marinate the fish in Peri Peri sauce. Apply the sauce on the surface so that it coats but doesn’t drench.
  • I added some Australian bush salt to this but you could salt and pepper instead
  • I squeezed juice of half a lime to this which would be a citrusy counter point to the heat of the Peri Peri and the pepper
  • I thought that the overall taste would be rather sharp so I added a couple of tablespoons of Port which would slow down the zing a bit and act as a tenderizer too.
  • Poke a few holes with a fork in the fish so that the marinate goes in. I didn’t and rued this in retrospect.
  • Let it marinate for at least an hour if possible. Hit the treadmill in between to build an appetite


  • Place it on a tray on a foil
  • The surface which will be on the top of the plate when you serve should face the bottom first. I used to do this instinctively earlier. Then today I heard George say on a Master Chef that you should as the pan or cooking surface is clean at this point so the the meat/ fish (roti in George’s case) looks its best when you turn it around. The surface is clean and ready to brown
  • Switch on the OTG for 5 minutes at 180 C

  After 5 minutes suraface turned

  • Take out the tray. Careful here. It will be hot. Turn the fish around gently. Stick a couple of red and green chillies in between for presentation
  • Switch it on for another ten minutes (15 min in total) for 180 C.
  • Let it rest inside for 5 minutes in the heat after the oven switched off
  • The dish is ready to eat.
  • Hot and slightly tart inside and white and matronly inside. In my opinion needed something to complement the white fish. The mushrooms did that.


SONY DSC                        


Mushrooms grilled in balsamic



  • 250 g sliced button mushrooms with about 2,3 tablespoons of balsamic. The sweet tang balsamic is a nice contrast to the solid meatiness of mushrooms. Brings the bounciness of the fungus alive. I added about a tablespoon of grated Dutch cheese to this and a touch of salt. Sprinkled a bit of Mediterranean sumac at the end of the colour
  • Marinate for at least half an hour



  • Just keep the tray of mushrooms in a section of the oven while the fish cooks. So 15 minutes and 180 C and the mushrooms are done jut right. Chirpy and full of life
  • The mushroom stock that comes out could be drizzled on the fish
  • This is a nice oil and butter free side to have with any dish.
  • The cheese didn’t add anything to the taste so you could take a call to add more or skip it




Well this was the simplest. Take couscous out from a packet. The one already had some flavours added in. Add 75 % the amount of couscous of hot water (heated for two minutes in a micro). Add a teaspoon of olive oil. Cover with a lid. Ready after a  few minutes. Ruffle it with a fork to fluff it up. I seasoned it a bit with the grilled mushroom juice.

A healthy option to rice or breads as carbs.



Facebook on marinate choice

Finely Chopped

Looking at 2 marinate options for surmai steak grills tonight. 1 wasabi, teriyaki, ginger 2. peri peri sauce, lime. Votes please

LikeUnlike · · Share · 12 hours ago

Rekha Ram likes this.

  Balkrishna Nadkarni Peri peri. I think Surmai is a textural delight but needs a strong (flavorful) marinade.

 Anurag Mehrotra ‎2


 Shreya Mitra ‎2

 Shishir Baxi ‎2. no 1 may have too many conflicting lines of flavour

 Sohini Datta Biswas Peri Peri, garlic, vinegar and lime....Nando's style :)

 Sneha Patil peri peri and lime. sounds yummy!

Finely Chopped ok everyone on twitter going for peri peri too. that was my plan till i saw tube of wasabi in fridge....will stick to plan

 Kaniska Chakraborty ‎1


 Balkrishna Nadkarni Share share please share. Salud.

 Kurush F Dalal the first option .... periperi sum how always tastes better on meat/chicken


Finely Chopped ‎@Balkrishna trying grill for the first time so hope i can do the texture justice

And on twitter:

Althea D'Souza  altheadsouza Althea D'Souza @ Finelychopped Peri peri sauce and lime..definitely!

Reeta Skeeter delhifoodiesDFZ Reeta Skeeter @Finelychopped voting for peri peri and lime :D

p r a g a t i shizznastica p r a g a t i @Finelychopped option 2!

altheadsouza Althea D'Souza @Finelychopped Haha I hv to admit,my vote was a lil biased after watching Vineet Bhatia on TV make Lobster Peri Peri in Goa! He's a genius!

p r a g a t i shizznastica p r a g a t i @Finelychopped as much as I love japanese, that's how much I loathe wasabi. I know, weird right?

monika monikamanchanda monika @Finelychopped option 1

Vandana Joshi vandanajoshi Vandana Joshi @Finelychopped I vote for 1 :)

Saee Khandekar Saeek Saee Khandekar @Finelychopped Definitely peri peri and lime!

Thanks to all those who answered. Made it a lot easier for me


Gia Fernandes said…
Happy to help :-) The fish looks good.

Since you found the surmai understated, perhaps a stronger marinade next time? Or a piquant sauce to go on the side?

I also feel that surmai is a fish that needs a lot of added flavour. Rawas and snapper, on the other hand, are delicious even with the slightest of seasonings.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
I think the piquant sauce on the side is a good idea Gia, Friend of mine from Oz gave me some chutneys when we met. I think poking wholes with a toothpick could see the flavours spread better
Scarlett said…
I went to this place for dinner last night where we barbequed our own steaks! If you think about it, the restaurant was being lazy and getting people to cook their own food, even though that wasn't reflected in the price, but it was a good experience. I'd never barbequed a steak before!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Scarlett: when I went to sydney then someone told me about this place at the Rocks, if I rememeber right, where you buy your own meats and then go and grill. I think she said it was outdoors. They really enjoyed the experience. Wonder if it is the same place