Actually, this is sea bream, not bass
For the thai paste
2 large bunches fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks reserved
2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, halved and deseeded
2 tsp sesame oil
6tbsp soy sauce
Juice and zest of two limes
1x400ml tin of coconut milk
400g/14oz basmati rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4x170g/6oz sea bass fillets, pinboned and skin scored
A handful of sugar snap peas or mangetouts
A bunch of spring onions, outer leaves discarded, trimmed and finely sliced
1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1 lime, quartered
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f
In a food processor, whiz up the coriander stalks, half the coriander leaves, the ginger, garlic, halved chillies, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and zest, and the coconut milk. This makes a lovely, fragrant Thai-style paste.
Cook your rice in salted boiling water till it’s just undercooked, then drain it in a colander. Scoop in into a high sided roasting tray. Pour the thai paste over the rice and mix it in well, then shake it out flat. Lay the sea bass fillets on top, scatter over the snap peas or mangetouts, then cover the dish tightly with foil, and put it in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle over the spring onions, the sliced chili, and the other half of the coriander leaves. Divide between your plates with a wedge of lime.
This is a Jamie Oliver recipe.
I don’t cook fish. That’s always been my stance anyway. For one thing, it’s just far too expensive, but the real problem is that I am afraid to cook it. I can’t say exactly why, but I always have been. Maybe it’s stories about people getting sick from shellfish, or just that I would hate to ruin anything so pricey. What ever the reason, it’s time to get over it.
I went to talk to my local fish guy. Turns out he’s the best fish guy ever. He’s a mobile market guy, so if anyone reading this happens to live in the East of England, check your local market for his stall… F.E. Tucker & Sons. I imagine he must be one of the sons, cuz they’ve been around since 1956.
Anyway, the recipe calls for Sea Bass, but I was shocked at how much that costs. The guy said that it’s that expensive because it’s like the Champaign of fish. He sold me some Sea Bream instead, which costs half as much, and has a wonderful flavor and texture. He described it as tasting very similar to shellfish, and after trying it, my husband and I agreed with him. They are also pretty and red, which is fun.
As for the recipe…
When you make the paste, you should be warned, it’s ugly. It mixes to a strange consistency, I actually thought I must have gotten it wrong, but then I tasted it, and it’s REALLY good. Once you mix it with the rice, you can’t tell that it was ever ugly. I used brown rice because I noticed at the last minute that I had run really low on Basmati. The flavor of the sauce is totally powerful enough to handle brown rice.
The cooking was a bit of trouble, just because of my fear and inability when it comes to fish cooking. I guess the deal with fish is that any cooking time is really just an estimate as it depends so much on the thickness of the fillet. Mine took twice as long to cook as it was supposed to which made me panic a bit, but the end result was great. The sauce and the toppings make this dish really special. Everybody loved it, the boys too!
I’m going to try to do a fish dish every week (I’d do more, but it’s still too expensive to be more regular then that). I WILL learn to make good fish, and not be intimidated.