Sea Bass with Spicy Coconut Broth


Master chef, teacher, and author John Ash contributed this delicious recipe, which can be made with any fresh fish (be sure you select your fish from a sustainable source). It's based on a curry mixture called laksa, which originally was a descriptor for noodles, but now has come to mean a spicy, coconut milk-based dish with or without noodles. Its roots are in Indonesia and Malaysia; now it's very popular in trendy restaurants across Australia.


4 sea bass fillets (3/4 to 1 inch thick, about 1-1/2 pounds)
  coarse salt (to taste)
  freshly ground pepper (to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (well stirred)
1/2 cup laksa paste (or to taste, see recipe below)
1 pound Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach
  Daikon radish or sunflour sprouts (as garnish)
2 tablespoons Asian chile sauce (or to taste)
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/3 cup chopped, toasted macadamia nuts or blanched almonds
1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons coriander seeds (crushed)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste or 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (or to taste)
  Juice and grated zest of 2 limes
2 teaspoons Sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup coconut milk


Make the laksa paste first. Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk in a blender and purée until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce should be very fragrant.

Add the coconut milk and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Laksa paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F.

Dry the fish with paper towels, then season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and sauté on one side until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until the fish has lost its translucency and is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the stock and coconut milk in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and add the laksa paste; keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and stir-fry until it wilts, about 1 minute. This may need to be done in two batches if your pan is not large enough.

To serve, divide the spinach among 4 wide, shallow bowls, and top each serving with a fish fillet. Ladle the warm broth around the fish, garnish with the sprouts, and serve immediately.


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