Thai green sea bass with galangal, lemon grass and coconut

6
60 minutes

Ingredients

Sea bass

  • 1 whole sea bass, weighing 1.5–2kg
  • lime leaves, (optional)
  • 1 lime, sliced (optional)
  • 100ml of water, fish or vegetable stock

Thai paste

  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp of black peppercorns
  • 1 knob of galangal, thumb-sized, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 1 knob of ginger, thumb-sized, peeled and roughly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, bashed to remove the skin
  • 3 banana shallots, roughly chopped
  • 3 lemon grass sticks, outer layers removed and set aside, the rest roughly chopped
  • bird's eye chillies, 6–8 (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce
  • lime juice, from 2–3 limes
  • 2 tbsp of Demerara sugar
  • 1 bunch of coriander, large, leaves and stalks chopped separately
  • 400ml of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

To serve

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

1
To begin, make the Thai paste. Grind the spices in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add to a food processor with the galangal, ginger, garlic, shallots, lemon grass (reserving the outer layers), chillies, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Blitz to a rough paste
2
Add the chopped coriander stalks and coconut milk to the paste with the salt and blitz again until all the ingredients are combined. At this stage taste the paste, it will taste dramatically hotter before baking so if you want to add more chillies, do so at this stage. The paste will last for a week in the fridge or a month in the freezer
3
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
4
Lay the sea bass in a deep roasting tin large enough for it to comfortably fit in. Make a few slashes in both sides of the body and cover with enough paste, inside and out, so that it is well-coated. If you have any lime leaves, stuff them in the cavity of the sea bass, with the outer lemon grass layers and a few slices of lime
5
Mix the rest of the paste with the water or stock and pour into the roasting tin. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until a thin metal skewer can slide easily all the way into the thickest part of the fish
6
Scatter with chopped coriander leaves and serve with lime wedges, coconut rice or some steamed pak choi laced with 1 tbsp sesame oil