Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oriental steamed seabass

I spent the weekend down on the Isle of Wight. It is where my parents live and where I lived from the age of ten. It really is a very special bit of England and this weekend was at its sunniest, sparkliest best. Our dog was extremely chuffed as he was finally allowed to tear along the beach - during the summer months dogs are not allowed on the beach near my parents' house. He had his first taste of swimming in the sea and absolutely loved it. I was momentarily nervous as he hasn't done much swimming as yet (he's just 8 months old) and the tide is so strong that I worried he might be swept out to sea. Fortunately he appears to be a strong swimmer and made it back to shore before indulging in an almighty shake-out...

But this has nothing to do with food. The sea surrounding the Island is home to a great deal of food however. Earlier in the week my mother was lucky enough to be given a large bass which she'd immediately frozen so that we could enjoy it at the weekend. Seabass is a favourite fish of mine and I often order it in a restaurant but I have to admit that I'm not sure I've ever cooked it before. My favourite way to enjoy it is with lovely fresh Oriental flavours and I've eaten it recently in a Chinese restaurant sprinkled with coriander and ginger with soy sauce and sesame. Inspired by this I took a look through my  mother's books and found a recipe very similar to the one I'd tasted. The book was written by Sophie Grigson and William Black and has the very original title of (you guessed it) Fish. I don't have the exact recipe here but I can remember what we did. It was extremely tasty - the only fiddly bit was serving the fish but with practice I'm sure we'd improve!

Oriental steamed seabass
Serves 2-4 depending on size of fish


1 large seabass
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 spring onions
1 small red chilli (less or more to taste)
1 fat clove of garlic
2 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
soy sauce
large handful fresh coriander

1. Wash and clean your fish and trim the dorsal fins. Cut 3-4 slashes through the skin on both sides. Season the cavity generously and place a few stalks of coriander in the cavity too.

2. Steam the fish. We used a fish kettle for this but you could curl it up in a regular steamer over a pan of boiling water as an alternative. Depending on the size of the fish, this could take anything from 10-20 minutes. Ours was pretty large and took almost 20 minutes. You want the fish to be just cooked.

3. Whilst the fish is steaming, prepare the garnish. Peel the ginger and cut into small matchsticks. De-seed the chilli and cut into very fine matchsticks. Finely chop the garlic and the spring onions. Mix all together in a little bowl. Chop the coriander.

4. Once the fish is ready, transfer quickly to a warmed serving plate and sprinkle on the ginger, chilli, garlic and spring onion mixture. Sprinkle over the chopped fresh coriander too.

5. Heat the oils in a small pan until smoking. Once really hot, pour over the top of the fish and garnishes. Dress liberally with soy sauce and hurry the fish to the table!

6. To serve, gently ease the fillets from the backbone and spoon over the juices and garnishes. We served ours with plain boiled rice and stir-fried vegetables.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I have a childhood friend who lives on the isle of Wight in Brighstone. I have never been myself but would certainly enjoy a good sea bass.

The Caked Crusader said...

I love watching dogs frolic in the sea - they always look like they're having the best time ever! I'm even rather partial to the unmistakable smell of wet dog!

Love your fish - the presentation is stunning

Hollow Legs said...

I love Chinese steamed fish, such delicate and lovely flavours.

Another way we do it is to steam the fish and meanwhile pour smoking hot oil over the ginger, spring onion and chilli to really get the flavours out, then pour it and the oil over the fish with a little soy sauce. A bit unhealthier, perhaps...

Your dog is gorgeous :)

Sam said...

Seabass is indeed a beautiful fish, it just works so well with oriental flavours, I can't think of a better way to serve it.

Abitofafoodie said...

Val - Brighstone is lovely. You should visit sometime if you are ever in the UK. The Island is lovely although it is a bit like stepping back in time.

CC - Me too. He had such a great time at the weekend - kept going in and bringing back big pieces of seaweed.

Lizzie - that sounds good too - I'll try that next time.

Sam - I love it with these flavours so much. I agree that it is hard to think of a better way to serve it.

Beth (jamandcream) said...

you picked a good weekend for it! This dish looks so impressive