January is universally acknowledged as the month of detox. Gyms burst at the seams with enthusiastic new joiners determined to stick to their new year’s resolution… this time. Community centres across the country swell with the weight of weight watchers. Just yesterday, in search of a healthy sushi lunch, I was turned away from Yo Sushi due to an inordinately long queue. Call it what you will. Detoxing. Dieting. Getting fit. Yes, everyone’s at it folks. And I’m afraid I’m including myself in that number. For me, however, it’s slightly more epic. You see, I have done absolutely no exercise in the nigh-on nine months since Finn was born. Combine this with the fact that I seem to have continued to eat as if I’m feeding two, you have one mighty miss feedetgastro. Something needs to be done. And fast.
To that end, I have booked myself on this and thrown out my delicious hoards of pasta, chocolate, cheese, pate, bread (etc etc) and restocked with horrendous sounding things such as quinoa, rye bread, skimmed milk (horrors of horrors). Just as I was about to sink into the obligatory January depression that accompanies this new “healthy living”, I had this lovely idea for a dish and it was so delicious it right perked me up. Even Sven liked it, and we all know he’s a curmudgeon when it comes to fish and anything virtuous.
Oven-Steamed Asian Sea Bass
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
- 1–2 red chillies (depending how spicy you like things), seeded and chopped
- a small piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- a handful of coriander stalks (use the leaves to garnish, and in your cucumber salad/rice if you’re serving with these)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 lime
- 2 fillets of sea bass
- a dash of fish sauce
- a dash of mirin (rice wine)
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
In a pestle and mortar, give the lime leaves a good bashing until they break down and the lovely aroma starts to come out. Then add the garlic, chilli, chopped ginger and coriander stalks and continue to bash until the mixture is smashed to a pulp. Mix in the soy sauce and the zest and juice of the lime, then check the balance of flavours and adjust as you see fit.
Lightly score the sea bass on the skin side with a sharp knife and then rub the marinade all over. Leave to marinate for an hour or so.Get a nice big bit of foil and lay it in a small baking tray. Put the portions of sea bass, skin-side up in the middle. Pour the marinade and all the juice over the sea bass then add a few splashes of fish sauce and rice wine, then fold up the edges of the foil really securely. Then fold over the top of the foil a couple of times – you should end up with something that resembles a tent. Don’t fold the foil right up to the edge of the fish, you want lots of space round the fillets to let the steam circulate.
Cook in the preheated oven for around 12-15 minutes. The fish is cooked when the skin just peels away easily. Open the foil and gently lift the fish out. Spoon the marinade over.
I served my fish with an Asian cucumber salad and coriander brown rice. Briefly, to make the cucumber salad I sliced the cucumber into ribbons (using a cheese slice) then made a quick dressing of soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, chopped coriander, chilli and garlic. I then mixed this with the cucumber ribbons. Also, once I served the cucumber salad, I used the dressing left in the bowl to dress the brown rice, which I also mixed with lots of coriander. Delicious and healthy.