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Spicy sea bass

This is a good recipe that can be adapted to suit both the adults and children who prefer less spicy food.  One medium-large sea bass should serve two adults, so I tend to buy two for the family. I make enough stuffing for one fish, cooking the other one plain for anyone who prefers it that way.  The quantities below are therefore for two adults.  
  • 1 sea bass, whole, gutted and cleaned
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cm cubed fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 galangal slices 
  • 1 lemongrass stalk 
  • half red chilli, deseeded, halved lengthways, sliced thin
  • zest half lime
  • juice half lime, retain the limes after juicing to stuff the fish with
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried
  1. If you are using dried galangal or lemongrass then soak them in hot water for half an hour.
  2. Place the garlic, coriander leaves, ginger, galangal, lemon grass, chilli, lime zest and juice, fish sauce and olive oil in a pestle and mortar and crush well.
  3. Using a sharp knife, make three or four slits in the skin of both sides of the bass. You need to use a sharp knife and get the angle right to do this. You do not want to end up chopping right through the fish as I did the first time I did this! A little care and practice is all it takes, and the stuffing makes the fish look and taste so much, it does not matter if you end up making the fish look like a bodged biology dissection.  
  4. Season the bass. Use the left over limes to stuff the fish.  Add the kaffir lime leaves and a third of the mixture in the pestle and mortar.  Pour another third of this mixture on one side of the fish, making sure the liquid goes into the slits. Turn the fish carefully and pour the remaining third on the other side, again making sure the liquid soaks into the slits.  
  5. Cover with foil and bake in a hot oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until cooked. You will know it is cooked because the skin will come away from the flesh easily and the flesh will look white, not translucent.