Whole Baked Sea Bass in Banana Leaves
The banana leaves make for a bit of ‘high drama’ at the dinner table. You can also use foil but double it to ensure there are no holes for steam to escape.
- 1 whole sea bass 1.5kg, scaled, gutted, and fins removed
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of palm sugar
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 1 inch fresh root ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Thai red chilli deseeded and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon grass stalk
- 125 ml coconut milk
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 15 g fresh coriander
- 1-2 tbsp honey
- 2 pinches large sea salt
- banana leaves or foil for wrapping (if using banana leaves make sure you clean them with warm water and kitchen paper first)
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- coriander lime wedges
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, gas mark 6, 200°C (180°C fan-assisted) Wash the sea bass inside and out, pat dry with kitchen paper.
- If you are using banana leaves, wash carefully under cold water, and wipe clean with paper towels.
- Score through the skin of the fish 3-4 times on each side, and rub the slits with the lime juice mixed with the palm sugar on both sides.
- Then lay the fish on a large piece of oiled foil or banana leaves using peanut and sesame oil.
- Put the lemongrass, chilli, chilli flakes, onion, garlic gloves, coriander, ginger and sea salt into a pestle & mortar or food processor and purée until smooth. Towards the end of grinding or puréeing slowly add 1 -2 tbsp of honey and the coconut milk.
- Season the fish inside and out with the paste, and making sure you push some into the scored slits.
- To wrap the fish in the banana leaves, begin by folding the sides of the leaf inward, then fold the top and bottom over and tucking the ends under (kind of like making a banana leaf burrito!). Using foil, wrap 2 layers securely around the fish, making sure there are no holes in the parcel. Tie with dampened string if you are using banana leaves.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until flesh is tender. If you’re eating the fish straight away, let it rest for about 5 minutes before opening the parcel.
- When ready to serve, garnish with lime wedges and coriander.
LISA’S TIP - You’ll love this tender and wonderful-tasting Thai baked fish. Wrapping the sea bass in a banana leaf ensures the fish remains moist and imparts a subtle flavour. Banana leaves can be found in Thai and certain Asian grocers. However, foil can be used as a substitute. I like to serve with some brown rice to soak up the juices and wok fried pak choi. If you have extra paste, combine it with any leftover coconut milk, heat through in a small saucepan and strain through a fine sieve to serve drizzled over the fish as a delicious thai spice infused sauce.