Malaysian-style whole fish

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Ingredients
1 stick of lemongrass
1 shallot
5 cm piece of ginger
3 fresh red chilies
6 lime leaves, (fresh or dried)
100 g unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 lime
1 x 800 g whole sea bass, scaled, gutted, from sustainable sources
1 large banana leaf, optional
1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
PICKLE
3 mixed-color chilies
1 pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

SALAD
1 fresh coconut
75 g sugar snap peas
75 g mangetout
¼ of a Chinese cabbage
¼ of a red cabbage
¼ of a cucumber
1 ripe mango
½ a bunch of fresh mint, (15g)
½ a bunch of fresh coriander, (15g)
½ a bunch of fresh basil, (15g)
1 lime

COCONUT RICE
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon creamed coconut
1 lime
1 mug of jasmine rice

Method
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
Whack the lemongrass against your work surface and remove the tough outer layer. Peel the shallot and ginger, deseed the chillies, then roughly chop everything with the lemongrass. Add to a large pestle and mortar with a good pinch of sea salt and the lime leaves (discard the stalks) and pound to a paste.
Toast the peanuts in a large frying pan over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until golden, then bash half into the paste. Add the tomato purée and fish sauce, finely grate in the lime zest and squeeze in all the juice, then muddle together.
With a sharp knife, score the sea bass skin at 1cm intervals in a criss-cross fashion, then rub it all over with the paste, both inside and out.
Get your banana leaf (if using), or tear off a piece of baking paper five times as long as the fish and fold it in half to give you double thickness. Place the fish in the middle, then fold over to seal the fish snuggly inside. Place on a large baking tray and roast for 25 minutes, or until the flesh is succulent and comes away easily from the bone.
To make the rice, drizzle the vegetable oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Crumble in the creamed coconut, then squeeze in the lime juice, throwing in the squeezed lime halves. Tip in the rice and fry for 2 minutes, then pour over 1 mug of boiling water and turn down the heat to low. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steam for a further 3 minutes.
For the chilli pickle, finely slice the chillies and place in a small bowl with the sugar, vinegar and a pinch of salt, then mix together and leave aside.
Now make the salad. Crack open the coconut and finely grate 50g of flesh into a serving bowl. Halve the sugar snaps and mangetout, finely shred both cabbages and cucumber, then peel and finely slice the mango and add it all to the bowl. Pick in most of the herb leaves, squeeze over the lime juice and toss together.
Pop the fish on a serving platter. Roughly crush the remaining peanuts in a pestle and mortar, then scatter over the salad and the fish. Drizzle the fish with the soy sauce and scatter over the remaining salad herbs.
Take the fish, chilli pickle, rice and salad to the table and let everyone help themselves.

 

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