This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Rawa Fried Prawn at Fish on Fire are succulent and perfectly spiced
Friends don’t often double up as family, but isn’t it great when they do. You wind up doing so much more than just socialising ever so occasionally at the one-off family event. It does help bonding in the long run, and it helps you make great discoveries, much like the next one that I made, courtesy my brother-in-law, Shardul.
He returned home one day, from an expedition that yielded great results, with arms laden with two massive bags of food. Now this wasn’t fine-dining material, but it was proper, hard-core Goan fare; the stuff that local dreams are made of. Having thoroughly enjoyed the meal, I couldn’t help but wonder where it came from, and I’ll admit that I had one eyebrow raised when I was told that it was called ‘Fish on Fire’.
Now stop being judgemental after reading the name, and remember that this is the south that we’re talking about. I’ll borrow the bard, Shakespeare’s words from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and twist them a little to say that “though our people be but little they are fierce;” fiercely passionate about what we do as well. And it is precisely that fierce passion that drives places like ‘Fish on Fire’ to excel. I eventually made it to the place, have returned frequently and I am yet to be disappointed by it.
Here is my series of disclaimers for the place: it’s a local restaurant with a tavern-like vibe, so don’t go there if you expect anything else; if you’re lucky enough to get one of their two prime tables, then you’ll have a spectacular view of the surrounding fields and the cattle that grazes in them; and lastly, it is beyond transparent with its pricing. The reason I emphasise primarily on the last of those points is simply this. A while ago I had the misfortune of being ripped off at one of the ‘popular’ Assolna places. I say ripped off because while it is true that the rules of ‘caveat emptor’ apply where seafood is involved, one doesn’t expect to be slapped with a bill that is nearly three times the normal going rate due to a lapse in the ‘inquiry process’. With fish on fire, you may or may not ask the rate, but can be assured that when the bill arrives, it is properly tallied and has no inflation whatsoever.
My first trip there led to my introduction to Jovino (Vaz), who I believe is the proprietor, though there may be others involved too. Jovino went on to tell me about the fresh catches of the day and their respective pricing. What I truly appreciated though was his honesty. He’ll tell you what he recommends and what he doesn’t. Through experience, I will list these out below.
The Prawn Curry is superb; it’s tangy yet sweet, has scores of little prawn and is a beautiful shade of orange. It is in sharp contrast to the Shark Ambotik which I also love, and has plenty of personality. For nit-pickers like myself, there is the option of basmati rice, for that added aromatic feel. The Rawa Fried Prawn/Oysters/Mussels are succulent and perfectly spiced, and rather generous in terms of quantity. The same can be said of the fried fish, which is either served in fillets or whole, depending upon the catch.
I hope that this place doesn’t slowly turn into one of those overly-commercial touristy places over time, and sticks to its roots and what it does best. On a side note, it’s been several visits to ‘Fish on Fire’ for me now, and I’m yet to discover the source of the name. As I type this out, I’m making a mental note to get that nugget of information out of Jovino the next time I turn up at his door.
Fish on Fire is a 'blink-and-you-miss-it' sort of establishment, given that its fairly off the beaten track. But owing to its great end product, avoid going there on weekends, as it gets ridiculously crowded. Takeaway is a great idea here.
Stick to local cuisine and always ask for recommendations, which are honest and forthcoming.
The average cost of a meal for two, minus the libations, is ₹700 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Fatona, Seraulim, Goa 403708
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.