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Shorshe Bhape Maach

Shorshe Bhapa Maach – Bengali Recipe of Steamed Salmon in Mustard Paste

by Shyamali Sinha

Shorshe Bhapa Maach – Bengali Recipe of Steamed Salmon in Mustard Paste – A mighty Salmon gravy with a traditional Bengali spin that makes the dish so unique. This recipe requires a handful of ingredients, perfectly fit in your five ingredients recipe list, and the flavour is massive, as long as you don’t overcook it.

Regular readers know that our website dominates by the foods that we love to eat and regularly cook in our kitchen. Most of the time for our daily meals, we make Bengali and Indian dishes. Means curries, gravies, stews, Dals. And, over the years, I have made a conscious choice to cook our traditional bengali dishes with local produce that we get in Australia (VIC). 

Is it all about gravy or fish?

Shorshe Bhapa Mach is synonymous to Shorshe Bhapa Ilish

Shorshe Bhapa Maach - Bengali Recipe of Steamed Salmon in Mustard Paste
Shorshe Bhapa Maach – Bengali Recipe of Steamed Salmon in Mustard Paste

When the monsoon starts in west Bengal, every Bengali talk about Hilsa, according to Bengali, the queen of Fish.  Since the last couple of years, social media feeds overloaded with the Ilish posts. Shorshe Ilish, Ilisher Jhol, Ilish Paturi, Ilisher Bharta, and what not!

It’s hard to resist for us as a family and not to make a trip to the nearest Bangladeshi shop for frozen Hilsa that they import from Bangladesh. But, this year, as we Melbournians are in stage four lockdown, not allowed to drive more than 5kms, so we couldn’t enjoy our share of Ilish!

Then, I decided to make Shorshe Bhapa Salmon instead of Shorshe Ilish! As we subscribe to the idea that doing something is better than nothing. Why not, Salmon is a fatty fish like Hilsa, Shorshe bata Mach or Fish is also about the gravy! 

Just five Bengali pantry essentials in the right proportions- Mustard oil, Mustard seeds, Salt, sugar and turmeric powder and plenty of green chillies all you need to make this utterly delicious recipe. 

Secrets to make mustard sauce or Shorshe bata that doesn’t taste bitter!

 Use the combination of black and yellow mustard seeds as yellow mustard seeds have lesser intense flavour than the black one! 

Soaking Mustard Seeds in hot water

The mustard seed has an acidic or sulphury flavour. Soak whole seeds in salted hot water at least for one hour(better if you do it for two hours), and their presence will be subtle. Soaking them into the hot water is the best way to extract the acidic flavour which makes the gravy bitter. Then drain the seeds in a fine sieve. Wash for a few time, that way you will get rid of intense acidic flavour, and after soaking when we grind them, their pungent aroma reappears. It is the combination and flavour extraction process that make the dish unique.

It’s about steam cooking also!

Preparing for steam

Bhapa means steaming or steam cooking. Steam cooking technique plays an important roll in our Bengali cooking. All you need is two cooking pots with lid. Usually, we use a steel tiffin box to prepare Bhapa recipes. But if you don’t get one and baking is a regular affair in your kitchen, then use your metal cake pan and cover it with foil. 

What to serve with Shorshe Bhapa Mach?

PLAIN STEAMED WHITE RICE is the only answer!

Shorshe Bhapa Maach Bengali Recipe of Steamed Salmon in Mustard Paste
Shorshe Bhape Maach

Shorshe Bhapa Maach

Author: Shyamali Sinha
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bengali, Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings : 30
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  • 600 gm Salmon - steak washed, cleaned and descaled, cut into equal sizes
  • 3 tbsp Yellow Mustard seeds - – 30 gm
  • 1 tsp Black Mustard seeds - – 5 gm
  • ½ + ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp Mustard Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp Sugar
  • 7-8 Green Chillies


  • In a bowl take both types of mustard seeds and 1 tsp salt, soak them into the water for 2 hours. I prefer to soak into hot water.
  • Put the soaked seeds in your tea strainer, pour water to wash the seeds, then transfer them into your spice grinding jar. Add salt to taste, 2-3 green chillies, ¼ tsp turmeric powder and about 3-4 tbsp of water to make a paste.
  • Marinate the fish pieces in a steel tiffin box with salt, turmeric powder, mustard paste, 2-3 tbsp of water and 1½ tbsp of mustard oil. Place the slit green chillies on the top of each fish pieces. Drizzle the remaining mustard oil on the top. Cover with the tiffin box a lid, let it marinate for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Take a cooking pot with lid, where the tiffin box can fit in. Place a metal rack, Pour boiling water into the pot, place the tiffin box, cover the pot with lid, over high heat, let it cook for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, let it sits for at least 10 minutes, then serve with steamed rice and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

If you don’t have metal tiffin box you can use a cake pan. For steaming cover the pan with foil.
Keyword: Bengali Bhapa fish, bengali fish recipe, Bengali steamed fish, bhapa maach
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