Sunday, 12 June 2011

Thai Style Sea Bass

Bloody hell, you know how it is, you wait for one Thai recipe and then two come along in the space of a week…

I’m sure we all have days when everything is going tits up: you get out of on the bed the wrong side; tube/train delays on the way to work; it is pissing down with rain etc etc. However, there are those days when everything seems to go as planned and lady luck clasps you to her bosom, and yesterday was one of those days for yours truly. I put together a very respectable fry up for brekkie; went off to cricket where I achieved the holy grail of taking 5 wickets and getting a 50 in the same match; sank a few celebratory pints in the pub afterwards; and then returning home managed to pull off this tasty recipe whilst a little bit tipsy.

Don't worry, I realise that no-one likes a braggart, and I’m sure I will return to earth with a bang soon enough, certainly next Monday when I start work again. But for now I'm basking in sporting (and culinary) glory.

Returning then to the point of the post, which is to talk about the Sea Bass (and not sporting my achievements). Like many people I very much enjoy eating this firm fleshed and well flavoured fish, and probably not as often as I’d like to. There is a fishmonger in the local town, but whenever he has Sea Bass in, it always seems to be farmed and of Greek origin, which doesn’t appeal to me an awful lot. But, I was in Heston and Delia’s favourite shop on Friday, and saw they had some Sea Bass from Anglesey in, so I snapped it up.

Wednesday’s eulogy to the Thai had put me in the mood for more hot, sweet, salty and sour action, so I decided to try and replicate one those dishes you get in Thai restaurants of crispy fish with chilli, garlic and ginger. Fortunately, I found a Bill Granger recipe online which fulfilled the majority of those criteria, and I’ve reproduced his recipe pretty much verbatim here. It wasn’t very difficult, and in fact the most taxing part was to gut and scale the Bass, which wasn’t the prettiest of tasks (nothing like a fish scale in the eye to sober you up though), and if you’re intelligent you’ll get the fishmonger to do it for you.

Thai Style Sea Bass:

(serves two)

1 Sea Bass, gutted and scaled (mine weighed approx. 500g)
Few slices of lemon or lime

3 cloves garlic, skinned and thinly sliced
Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 chillis, finely chopped
100 ml lime juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar

3 pak choi, cleaned and sliced (or use any other Asian style greens you fancy)
1 clove garlic, skinned and thinly sliced
Small piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Dash lime juice, soy sauce and fish sauce

Steamed rice

  1. Start off by cutting a couple of slashes into either side of the Bass, then season with salt, stuff the cavity with a few slices of lemon or lime and place on an oiled baking tray.
  2. Bake the fish for 20-25 minutes in the oven at 175c. Whilst it is cooking you can get on with the sauce and the stir fried greens.
  3. Starting off with the sauce. Heat up some oil in a wok and fry the garlic, chilli and ginger for a couple of minutes. Then add the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce and cook over quite a high heat for another 6 or 7 minutes. By this time the sugar should have caramelised and the sauce will have thickened up and turned a glossy brown colour.
  4. When this has been achieved, pour off the sauce into a jug. Then using the same wok you can turn your attention to the stir fried pak choi.
  5. Heat up some more oil and fry off the garlic and ginger for a minute or two, before adding the pak choi and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  6. Now add the lime juice, soy sauce and fish sauce. It is ready when the leaves have wilted, but the stems still retain some of their crunch.
  7. If your timings are right, the Sea Bass should be ready to come out of the oven just as the greens finish cooking. So place the fish on a platter and pour over the sauce, and serve with the pak choi and rice on the side.
I know that people pratting on about wine, and minerality and hints of tobacco can be off putting. But if you have put some effort in producing a great dish then I think it makes sense to put a bit of thought into what you are going to drink with it. This time (with the help of the omniscient Hugh Johnson) I managed to get the match spot on, and we had a Dr Loosen Riesling (pictured above) with the fish. It went fantastically well with the Thai flavours and would recommend giving it a shot if you feel so inclined.

p.s. I came across this great cartoon by James Thurber which sums up the wine ponce nicely.


  1. Hey gastroLad! I made the thai sea bass last night and it was a big hit!!!:)Your blog has really inspired me to try new recipes and to show off my knowledge of fine wines. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Anon, glad to see I'm enriching people's lives!