About as close to Thailand as I’ll be for a while…
[In this part of the post, I’d like you to take a moment to imagine that an ash-spewing volcano is all that’s coming between me and a trip to Thailand. Thank you, Iceland.]
There’s a lot I could say about this dish. I could say in general, steamed fish is amazing, and fish steamed along side chili, ginger, coconut-infused rice is doubly amazing. I could also say it represents the happy end to the great shopping standoff of 2010. Or that not many in their mid-twenties would be as glad to receive a present of fish as I was this evening.
I think though, what I would like to say, is that this might just be my new comfort meal. Finding words to explain why is difficult. The way the rice soaks up the coconut ‘paste’ and becomes almost risotto-esque. The lime. The chili. And most of all, the fact that the sea bass still tastes like sea bass.
Also, the tomato salad I made to go with it went perfectly. I think it came from the BBC originally, but I couldn’t find it tonight.
I took the recipe from Jamie. He’s redeeming himself. The original is available online, my only changes were minor substitutions:
2 large bunches of fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks reserved
2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 fresh red chillies, halved
2 teaspoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice and zest of 2 limes
1 400ml tin coconut milk
400g/14oz basmati rice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sea bass fillets
1/2 red pepper, finely sliced
1 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
1/2 lime, in 4 wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
2. In a food processor whiz the coriander stalks, half of the coriander leaves, the ginger, garlic, halved chillies, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and zest and the coconut milk. Jamie describes this as a ‘lovely fragrant Thai-style paste’. I say don’t panic if it’s more like a sauce.
3. Cook the rice until it’s just undercooked, then drain it in a colander. Scoop it into a high-sided roasting tray. Pour the Thai ‘paste’ over the rice and mix it in well, then shake it out flat.
4. Lay the sea bass fillets on top, scatter over the sugar snap peas or mangetouts [or red peppers], then cover the dish tightly with tinfoil and put it in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes.
5. Remove the foil and sprinkle over the spring onions [didn’t have any], the sliced chilli and the other half of the coriander leaves. Divide between your plates with a wedge of lime.
Asian-inspired Tomato Salad
Handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered.
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tsp sesame oil
Dash of tobasco.
Put in a bowl. Mix. Yum scrum.