Qantas' business class snapper with coconut milk & garam masala

By John Walton, February 3 2012
Qantas' business class snapper with coconut milk & garam masala

Qantas' Rockpool consultant Terry Higgins has kindly provided this recipe for the popular snapper dish from the airline's international business class menu for AusBT readers to try at home.

For more, read our in-depth interview with Terry Higgins on how a dish goes from Rockpool's chef's minds to your business class table.


Serves 4 

Snapper fillets are poached in a fragrant broth of coconut milk with a special blend of freshly ground spices.  A tomato and chilli base adds depth of flavour to the sauce with garlic, wild green chillies, ginger, turmeric and vine ripened tomatoes.

The snapper and its sauce are served over fine egg noodles with fresh, sweet snow peas and a garnish of fresh coriander. This dish is based on a Rockpool classic ‘Bar Cod and Garam Masala in a Pot’; any firm white fleshed fish will work with this dish.

Garam masala is a blend of dry roasted, ground spices from Northern India.  It has many variations and may contain anything up to 12 different spices which can include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chillies, fennel or nutmeg. 


For the Tomato and Chilli Base:

  • 1 small peeled brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1cm piece peeled fresh turmeric, minced (wear gloves as turmeric stains everything yellow!)
  • 1 small wild green chillies (scuds), finely chopped
  • 1cm piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, core removed, cut into 5mm dice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon light palm sugar, finely crushed
  • 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato and chilli base (see recipe above)
  • ½ teaspoon Herbies garam masala mix (see note above)
  • 4 x 150g fresh snapper fillets, skinless, boneless
  • 400g fresh fine egg noodles *
  • 250g snow peas, top and tailed 


First make the tomato and chilli base. This is a relish and will make more than you need for this recipe but it keeps for a while so save the rest for your next dinner party. 

Heat vegetable oil on a low temperature in a heavy-based pot. Add onions, garlic, turmeric, chillies, ginger and salt. Cook slowly on a low heat until caramelised (this can take up to 40 minutes). When onion mixture has caramelised, add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to use.

To make the garam masala sauce, in a deep saucepan add coconut milk, palm sugar, fish sauce, tomato and chilli base and garam masala. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

In a non-stick oiled pan over a high heat, place in snapper fillets with a little seasoning. Seal on both sides and quickly remove from heat. Place fish fillets into deep saucepan with spiced coconut sauce to gently poach. Depending on size of pan, you may need to gently turn fish fillets to ensure fish is evenly poached. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillets. If you prefer, you can cook the fish separately and then serve together on the plate. The fish is ready when a small pairing knife slides through without resistance.

Cook fine egg noodles until al dente. Toss in a little oil to keep from sticking. Blanch snow peas until just cooked.

To serve

Place an equal amount of noodles in four deep and wide pasta style bowls. Place snow peas on the side then a snapper fillet on top. Pour over sauce and garnish with a sprig of coriander. Serve immediately.

• This dish may also be served with steamed Jasmine or Basmati rice

Hungry for more of Australian Business Traveller's Food Week articles? You'll find them all this week — and keep an eye on our @AusBT Twitter account for the very latest.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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