Steamed sea bream with chilli, lime and lemon grass

Andy Oliver & Mark Dobbie, owners of Som Saa, cook up a fresh, spicy dish full of authentic Thai flavours.  

This is a very simple way of serving fish. It packs a punch but allows the taste of the sea bream to shine through.

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 whole sea bream (400- 600g), scaled and gutted
1 lemon grass stalk
2-3 dried kaffir lime leaves
75ml fresh chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
1 tsp caster sugar
7 garlic cloves
3-6 green or red Thai chillies
small handful coriander, plus extra to garnish
40ml fish sauce
50ml freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
handful celery leaves, from inside a bunch of celery

Method

1. Score the fish with 3 equally spaced diagonal slits on each side, cutting almost, but not quite, to the bone. Bruise the lemon grass with a rolling pin and stuff it into the cavity of the fish with the lime leaves.

2. Put the fish on a plate and place in a steamer (or lidded wok) and fill with water below the plate. Steam for 8-10 minutes, until the flesh comes away from the bone.

3. Meanwhile, heat the stock (or water) in a pan to the boil, then add the sugar. Boil for a few seconds to completely dissolve the sugar, then take off the heat. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

4. Use a knife to mince the garlic, chillies and coriander (with the stalks too). Mix into the stock, along with the fish sauce and lime juice. It should taste sour, garlicky, spicy and a little salty with a hint of sweetness.

5. Carefully transfer the steamed fish to a serving dish (use a lipped one to hold the sauce). Pour over any juices from the steaming plate, then spoon the chilli and garlic sauce all over the fish. Garnish with extra coriander and the celery leaves, and serve with steamed rice, if liked.