London mainstay The Ivy has seen its share of celebrities and other VIPs hungry for its vibrant modern cuisine and “see and be seen” vibe. Peruse their new cookbook filled with its best stories and most beloved dishes, like this Thai baked sea bass.
This has been on our menu for years, its popularity never wavering. It’s fresh, fragrant and extremely flavoursome, so perfect for a light supper, or for a showstopping addition to a barbecue party. In the restaurant, we use banana leaves to wrap the fish, but given that banana leaves are not easy to come by, we have given instructions on cooking it ‘en papillotte’, meaning ‘in parchment’. You will lose nothing doing it this way, apart from the subtle fragrance imparted by the banana leaves.
Note: If you want to cook the fish on the barbecue, wait until the embers have died right back, and the heat is no longer fierce.
- 6 7-ounce sea bass fillets, descaled and pin boned
- 1 medium egg white, lightly beaten
- Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/3 cup mirin
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 1 1-ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
- 1 red chili, deseeded and very finely chopped
- 6 lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 4 1/2 ounces Thai basil
- 4 1/2 ounces cilantro
- 1 1 3/4-ounced piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks lemongrass, roughly chopped
- 1 green chili, roughly chopped
- 8 lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons desiccated (dry unsweetened) coconut
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- juice of 1 lime
For the seabass
For the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and pour half into a shallow dish. Cover and set the remainder aside to be served as a dipping sauce later. Score the skin of the sea bass fillets with a sharp knife, add to the marinade, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
For the paste, blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Pat the fish fillets dry with kitchen paper (paper towels) and press the paste onto the skin side of the fillet, about 1/2-inch thick and all the way to the edges. Take a piece of greaseproof paper (approximately letter sized), fold it in half and lay the fish, paste-side up, on one half of it. Brush the edges of the paper with lightly beaten egg white, and fold the other half over the fillet, pressing the edges of the top half firmly down onto the egg white, encasing the fish. As the egg white cooks, this will create a strong seal.
Cook the fish on a baking sheet in the hot oven for about 10 minutes – when cooked the fish should be opaque white and feel firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and serve immediately in the paper parcels allowing your guests to unwrap them at the table so that they get a burst of fragrance as they open it.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice and your choice of dipping sauces, including the reserved marinade.