Tomato Poached Fish with Chili Oil


This week, we are honouring one of the most talented food writers I know, Alison Roman. One of my most vivid memories includes recreating her recipe — tomato poached fish with chili oil. It was night-in where my best friend and I seeked comfort in this warm and flavourful dish amidst all the troubles in our lives. Do not let the name of the dish deceive you — I promise you nothing more complex than a comforting bowl of fish in tomatoey-goodness. And if your life has been hectic lately, I can guarantee you that this dish will bring you the comforts of simplicity, so enjoy. 

In addition to Roman’s recipe, I decided to add some anchovies for extra flavour, which I strongly recommend. 


Chili Oil 

2 shallots 

2 tbsp of olive oil 

½-1 tbsp of dried red peppers flakes 

Optional: anchovies 

Tomato base 

½ tbsp of olive oil 

Black pepper 


¼ tsp of brown sugar 

2 tsp of fish sauce 

1 onion or 2 shallots, sliced 

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

5-6 tomatoes 

2-3 frozen fish fillets eg; cod, salmon 

Fish alternatives: shrimp, firm tofu 

Fish sauce alternatives: soy sauce, mirin, Worcestershire sauce 

Optional toppings 





Chili oil 

Heat up the olive oil at medium to high temperature, and toss in the sliced shallots. When the texture of the shallots becomes slightly fried (light brown), add in the dried pepper flakes and optional, but highly recommended, anchovies. The key to getting the perfect colour is to lower the heat once the aromatics turn a light golden brown — they will continue to cook in the oil and gradually become golden brown without the high heat. When the anchovies melt into the oil and the shallots become golden brown and crisp, remove from the heat and let the chili oil cool down. 

Tomato base 

Heat up the olive oil at medium to high temperature and toss in the sliced onions or shallots with the finely chopped garlic, and stir until golden brown. Lower the heat and add in the tomatoes and begin mashing the tomatoes until a soup-like consistency has formed from the tomato juices. By cutting the tomatoes prior, you will save yourself time and energy smashing a whole tomato.  Make sure to leave tomato chunks in there. Season with salt, black pepper, brown sugar and fish sauce or fish sauce alternative. Cover the fish fillet in the liquid and let it sit for about 15 minutes or until the fish can be easily pulled apart and its colour is no longer translucent. 

Note that cooking time will vary with the type and thickness of fish used — 15 minutes is a good guide for a two- to three-inch cod fillet. 

If you want to incorporate carbs into this dish, I recommend orzo, quinoa, rice or toast. This dish can be easily made in bulk and stored in your fridge for up to a week and a half so, throughout the weeks, you can pair it with the carbs of your choice to spice it up and you will not be bored of it. 

Winter can be emotionally tough and cold at times but, this dish can warm you up and enlighten you with all the simple things you can be grateful for. From the first snow fall to the delicate designs of a snowflake that landed on your fingertips to staying in with a warm bowl of tomatoey goodness. This dish will snuggle you like a warm blanket and take you to your comfort zone and I promise you will love it.