Today I am going to blog about this – Striped Sea Bass in mild coconut curry, the new fish on my chopping block.
Sea Bass seems to be very popular, most loved and favoured fish among the sea food lovers. But to us (read Bongs, few Bengalis don’t like this term) any fish that can not adapt well to the
waters condiments of Kolkata can not survive on a Bengali fish platter. It has to first pass through the “Mustard Test”. So, when I brought home two medium size striped Bass, the only undisputable condiment to go along with this fish was my freshly made mustard paste. Sea Bass happily passed that test and carved itself a slot in my freezer section.
It become a ritual (read annoying habit) that each time I cook fish my mind raced back on the fast track lanes of memories, of weekend fish markets of Kolkata, the cacophony of sounds, the smell (undesirable fishy smell) which is so ingrained in the atmosphere, and the race to get the best catch of the day. I was stumped when I saw the tiny fish markets in Bangalore that hardly offers anything to satiate a Bong appetite. The hunt for fish continued across the seven seas till we saw some frozen “Bengali fish” lying for days in a corner of an Indian store, all the way imported from Bangladesh. Something is always better than nothing, we consoled ourselves. Over a period of few months, we soon get bored with this. I mean how can a frozen fish match the taste of fresh caught ones. So the hunt continues, till one fine day we had come acrossed this store called “Li Ming” an Asian grocery store (in NC where we used to live). No, this is not advertisement fo their store, a generous way to tell the fish lovers (specially to my clan) that they stock wide variety of fresh fishes. The store housed two giant tanks that contain live Tilapia and Sea Bass. We had tried Flounder, Red Snapper, Haddock, Grouper, Mahi Mahi and likes. The fish was always fresh.
That is how Sea Bass came home with us. After passing successfully the mustard test, we had tried it with coconut milk. Though I will admit that mustard was little overpowering for Sea Bass unless you add some whipped yogurt in the gravy. Sea Bass has a mild, delicate and delicious flavor. So try not to overpower its sweet taste with too many spices, and though we fried the fish before simmering it in the gravy (Bengali way to cook the fish), I will suggest you to go lighter on this. The coconut milk adds a new dimension to this dish. I will suggest you to rub little lime over it, and the beautiful curry is done, so delicious and sublime. Serve it over a bed of steamed rice for a satisfying meal.
- Striped Sea Bass whole : 1 medium size weighing around 1 pound
- Red onion (sliced) : 1 medium size
- Ginger (chopped): 1 tbsp
- Dry red chillies : 2-3 (tear into small size)
- Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
- coriander powder: 2 tsp
- Red chilli powder: ½ tsp or optional
- Lime leaves : few or optional
- Juice of One lime
- Salt to taste
- Coconut milk : 1 can or 150 ml around
- Vegetable / coconut oil : 4 tbsp
- Wash and cut the fish into oval slices or get it done from your fish monger.
- Skin on or skin out is your choice. I prefer it with skin on.
- Rub the fish pieces well with salt, a pinch of turmeric and half of lime juice.
- Set aside for 15 -20 minutes.
- Grease well a wide open pan with 2 tablespoon of oil.
- Once the oil is hot enough, place two pieces of fish on the pan and lightly seared them.
- Do not overcrowd the pan and do not over seared the fish.
- Just 3-4 minute on each side.
- Once the fish pieces are lightly seared, slot them out from the pan and drain the excess oil on kitchen towel.
- In the same pan, fry the onions, ginger and red chillies.
- Once they are lightly browned, take out from the pan, cool them slightly before making a paste in the blender.
- Return to the same pan and add the remaining oil.
- Add the onion-ginger-chilli paste in the pan, fry them on medium heat for around 5 minutes.
- Add all the spices and salt. Saute them for another 10 minutes till the oil oozes out.
- Add the remaining lime juice, mix it over and switch off the heat.
- After 2-3 minute, heat the pan again and add the coconut milk. Blend it well.
- Slip the lime leaves into the curry.
- Add the fish pieces one by one, lower the heat, check for salt and seasonings.
- Cover the pan and let the fish stewed in coconut milk for 3-4 minutes.
- Serve the coconut fish curry over bed of steamed rice.
If you have tried Sea Bass in any other ways, do share it here. Hope you will love this fish curry in coconut milk.
Stay tuned for more