A Rejuvenating Supper

I know that it appears Paul and I are going the way of the Galloping Gourmet: spending our 30s in a hedonistic haze of roux based sauces, rich puddings, dripping butter and a lot of cheese.
Of course, being British and with a love of French food, I would like this to be the case but we do have such a thing as cholesterol to think about, not to mention expanding waistlines and hereditary illnesses.
So, with that in mind, I have decided that we will be eating (relatively) healthy food for a while. I know, you’ve read this before but this time we are serious. I find myself look at the piles of frozen meat in the freezer, waiting for inspiration that doesn’t seem to come. I finally figured that we’re fooded out. We have eaten too much rich food and we need to strip out eating habits back to basics.
Last night I started our healthy eating regime with some baked Sea Bass and steamed Bok Choi. Paul made some of his famous Chow (Lo) Mein for substance. I had never tried Sea Bass until last night and I was pleasantly surprised by its soft, creamy texture and sweet flavour, enhanced by the ginger, garlic, coriander and lemongrass that I had stuffed into its belly.
This beautiful Sea Bass, a Warholesque fish, was simple to prepare. Taking advice, once again, from Nigel Slaters Kitchen Diaries, I made a sweet/sour/salty/spicy broth for it to poach in, encasing the fish in tinfoil and baking in the oven for 20 minutes. I let it stand, still in the foil, for another 10 minutes, whilst I prepared the Bok Choi, and Paul made his noodles, by which time the fish had reabsorbed much of its cooking juices and was delightfully moist and flaky.
The Sea Bass is not a cheap choice of fish to cook for more than four people, averaging at about £3.80 each (and, whilst Paul and I shared this one, I think we both would have been happier with one each), but it is a special fish, and the perfect choice for people who are non-committal about fish. And, if you serve it in its little tinfoil duvet, it will garner lots of oohs and ahhs from your guests.

1 Whole Sea Bass, gutted and descaled
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Stick of Lemongrass
1 Red Chilli, (deseeded if preferred), cut into thin shards
½” Nub of Ginger, peeled and cut into slithers
2 Spring Onions, finely chopped
Pinch Sugar
1 Teaspoon Nam Pla (fish sauce)
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
200ml Chicken or Fish Stock
Big Bunch Coriander
1 Clove Garlic, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 170c.
On a clear work surface (I say clear because in our kitchen, I dream of clear work surfaces) lay a piece of tinfoil, large enough to wrap the fish up securely.
Lay your prepared fish onto the centre of the foil. Cut three deep slashes on each side, to enable the flavourings to seep into the delicate meat.
Fill the belly with half of the stick of lemongrass, bashing it quite hard first to release it’s lemony oils, half of the spring onion, chilli, ginger, garlic and some of the coriander just torn off the bunch (no need to chop).
In a small bowl, mix together all of the remaining ingredients, except for the coriander, and pour over the fish, rubbing this beautiful, oily mixture into the slashes of the fish.
Fold the tinfoil, longwise first, so that it meets in the middle and crimp the two sides together tightly. Seal the two shorter ends but leave them facing upwards (to avoid any leakages). The parcel should look roughly the same shape as the fish.
Place carefully on a large baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of fish). Once cooked, remove from the oven but do not undo the foil at this stage. The fish is better if allowed to stand for 5-10 minutes. It will stay warm within the foil and the standing time will improve the texture of the flesh no end.
Serve with some steamed Bok Choi and Noodles or Rice.
A dish that is low fat AND tastes good. If only I could cook like this everyday!


Patricia Scarpin said...


Cutting calories is such a difficult thing, I know exactly what you are going through!

This fish looks delicious and what a great way to have a wonderful meal without worrying about fat!

Joyce said...

So glad I found your lovely site.
Glad to hear you're going the simple, healthy route. Stick to it. I gave up on the 'all day to prepare' foods when I retired. Fresh, whole foods,simply prepared with great herbs and/or aromatics, leaves time to do other things while still eating exceptionally well. Keep in touch.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Great suggestion! You missed one bonus~ easy clean up. Looks fantastic!

Helene said...

Looks great. Wish sea bass was less expensive around here but it is so protected. I love the taste though.

Homesick Texan said...

Sounds like a refreshing change for y'all. I hear you, sometimes after I go on rich, white-food binges I need to detox for a few weeks with low-fat and healthy foods.

Kate said...

That looks ambitious....whole fish cooking.

I love sea bass too, it is pretty costly here in the Midwest so I settle for tilapia, or salmon for an indulgence. We love to eat fish.

Kathryn said...

I love seabass... but rarely have it due to price and availability (they always have it in Tesco but I don't buy fish there...). I like dishes like the one you've cooked; it looks delicious. I don't think I would go down the route of a few weeks low fat then a few weeks butter and French food - I prefer balancing it out across the week.

However if you are interested in fish and healthy food, try Jamie's cod with miso - you can find it on my blog under fish - and his Thai sea bass fillets; both (if you use reduced fat coconut milk for the latter) are healthy but really tasty...

Kathryn x

Gattina said...

Freya, I love your sea bass recipe!!! Lemongrass and coriander... reminds me my favorite fish dish at a Thai resturant! I got to make it =)

Gemma said...

That looks delicious, I am planning on making sea bass for the first time tonight (if they have it at the fishmonger) so we'll see how it goes!

Gemma x

wheresmymind said...

Oh why does the yummiest food have to be so bad for us? *sigh*

Melting Wok said...

Hi Freya, thanks for dropping by my blog. I have eaten this fish many times, steamed with ginger, and chinese wine, its delicious. I believe what you're using is not sea bass, I'm preety sure the fish you used is call "stripe" bass. ooh, you just stormed up a wonderful cantonese "lo mein". We used to do this with chinese BBQ pork "cha siu" with chinese greens. Your recipe looks great, using all the highly aromatic herbs like lemongrass, love it !!:) Thanks for sharing, cheers !:)

Jeanne said...

Mmmm, that looks fabulous! I love cooking whole fish (I still need to blog my whole mackerel I did a while back!) and this recipe sounds glorious. And looks great :)