Seabass is widely regarded as the king of the seas, especially now that much Salmon is farmed, and it was a major hit with the chefs at the Newport Food Festival.
Matt Dawkins started the programme of demos with his take on the fish which features on the menu at The Star Inn Llansoy, Anand George produced his Tiffin Cup winning main course in his Master class, and Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park also used Seabass in his demonstration.
I must admit that due to pressures of time I didn’t get to see Hywel’s entire demo but the technique of filleting was well covered and his useful tip of resting the fillets in the fridge to allow the flesh to shrink a little making pin-boning easier was a winner. The importance of a flexible knife - to cleanly follow the bone line, and saving the head for a good stock was also emphasised.
Matt has a twist on his dish which combines pan fried Welsh Seabass with the oriental tastes of Jasmine Rice, a Lemon and Lime Panacotta and a Thai dressing. An unusual combination but one in which the clean taste of the fish is offset by the creamy citrus of the Panacotta and the sharp, hot sour dressing, the whole coming together to produce a mix of flavours and heats that give added depths to each mouthful.
Though the recipe is attached you really should book a table at The Star Inn Llansoy and try the dish at first hand to understand the tastes and textures so that you can reproduce it at home.
Anand George’s Tiffin Seabass is his signature dish and the one which won the House of Commons Tiffin Cup for the best Indian Dish. Regularly on the menu at Purple Poppadom in Cardiff, Anand’s award winning restaurant the dish is complimented by a Curry Leaf infused Mashed Potato and a zingy, but smooth raw Mango, Ginger and Coconut “Aleppy” sauce. Again a combination of flavours and textures that really do make you think again about the traditional ways of serving this popular fish.
Both are easily managed at home which emphasises that the best dishes are usually simple but work together so that each element is distinct but the dish blends them together to produce a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
I certainly learned a lot from the demonstrations and have reconsidered my approach to fish cookery.
My own little twist on Matt’s dish, and one that I frequently use, is to season the fish with Halen Mon Vanilla Sea Salt as opposed to plain Sea Salt. Vanilla may seem an unlikely companion to fish but it adds an extra depth of flavour and ‘lifts’ the fish.
Matt Dawkins Seabass on a bed of Jasmine Rice with Lemon and Lime Panacotta, served with a Thai Dressing.
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Dash of Olive Oil
For the Panacotta
450ml Double Cream
4 ½ Gelatine Leaves (Vegetarians and Pescetarians should use Agar Agar instead)
¼ Spring Onion
¼ bunch Fresh Coriander
1” Fresh Ginger
1 Lime Juiced
25ml Soy Sauce
10ml Olive Oil
25g Basmati Rice per person
1 Red Chilli
¼ bunch Fresh Coriander
Make the Panacotta first as it takes 1-2 hours to chill in the fridge.
Zest the Lemons and Limes. Boil the cream, zest and sugar together. When boiled add the pre-soaked Gelatine leaves and mix well to ensure that they are dissolved, Add the Yoghurt, stir well, pour into small moulds and chill.
Make the dressing (as it can be set aside)
Finely dice the Spring Onion, Chilli and Coriander. Grate the Ginger. Mix together the Onion Chilli and Coriander and add the Olive Oil and Soy Sauce. Add the Ginger and Lime juice to taste then season with a little Salt and Pepper.
For the Jasmine Rice I use the method which we learned at Ballymaloe Cookery School as it provides fluffy rice every time.
Bring water to the boil and then add the rice ensuring that it is well covered, Boil for 5-6 minutes then test a grain to make sure it is softening. Drain the rice and put into an ovenproof dish covered in foil before placing in a 150c oven for at least 15 minutes. Fluff and then add the Chilli and Coriander and re-cover with foil so the steam from the Chilli and Herb infuses the rice.
Season the flesh then fry skin side down in a pre-heated pan with a drop of oil until the skin is crispy. You may wish to hold the fish down with your finger or a spatula. Then turn to finish the flesh
Anand George’s Tiffin Seabass with Curry Leaf Mash Potato
150g Raw Mango
10 Ginger (Julienned)
20g Kashmiri Chilli Powder
5g Turmeric Powder
300g Coconut Milk Powder
Curry Leaf Mashed Potato
5g Mustard Seeds
10g Split Urad Dal (white dal not red)
5g Green Chilli
5g Curry Leaves
6g Salt450g Boiled Potatoes (skin removed and grated or riced)
For the Sauce
Peel and slice the Onions. Julienne the Ginger, peel the Mango and cut into small cubes. Mix the Coconut Milk Powder with 600 mils hot water and blend well. Heat the Oil in a pan add the Onions Ginger Raw Mango and Curry Leaves sauté until transparent on a high-ish heat. Lower heat and add the Chilli Powder, Turmeric and Salt. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the 300mls of water and bring to the boil. Once the mixture starts to thicken add the coconut milk and cook until a sauce consistency develops. Remove from heat and pass through a fine sieve.
For the Mashed Potato
Chop the Onions, Green Chilli, Ginger and Curry Leaf. Heat the oil in a pan then add the Urad dal and allow to crackle, then add the Mustard Seed, Chopped Ginger, Onion, Green Chilli and Curry Leaf. Lower the heat and add the Turmeric and Salt. Sauté for about a minute then add the water and potatoes, mash well together.
For the Fish
Cut the fillets in two, coat with Oil and Salt. Heat a pan and cook the Seabass skin side down before turning.
Plate by putting the Mash in the centre of the plate and pour the Aleppy Sauce over. Rest the fillets of fish on top.
Two top recipes from brilliant local chefs. They will bring a smile to your face and great tastes to your table.
To try the dishes in the restaurants check these websites:
Matt’s dish http://www.thestarinn.org.uk/
Anand’s Dish http://purplepoppadom.com/anand-george
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