For the Chinese, fish is associated with abundance and prosperity, making it a customary dish as they gather for a meal during the Lunar New Year.
In this fourth out of five HALAL recipes of “Tim Cooks: CNY Edition”, chef Timothy Sebastian of Hungry Bacon in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya shares his recipe for salt-baked sea bass.
Stuffed with fragrant lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, sliced garlic and Vietnamese coriander, this light but flavourful fish is simply delightful when enjoyed with steaming white rice – a scrumptious way for you and your loved ones to usher in a bountiful Chinese New Year!
Ingredients for sweet soy sauce or kicap manis:
(Serving: 225g / three portions of 75g)
- 100g sweet soy sauce or kicap manis
- 20g dark soy
- 100g limes to juice/strain
- 20g chopped garlic
- 30g chopped shallots
- 5g thinly sliced red cili padi or bird’s eye chillies (optional but add if you want a “kick”)
- 10g sliced spring onions
- 10g sliced corianders
- 10g light soy
- Weigh all the ingredients and add to a mixing bowl. Next, whisk until well-combined.
- Transfer to a clean container, cover and keep chilled.
- Shelf life: one week if chilled.
- It is best to leave the sauce overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
- To get more juices from each lime, give each a good hard roll with your palm before extracting the juice.
Ingredients for the fish
- 15g bruised lemongrass or serai (lightly crush lemongrass stalk so that more flavours are released into the fish)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves or daun limau purut
- 5g sliced garlic
- 3g Vietnamese coriander or daun kesum
- 700g rock salt
- 2 whisked egg whites
- 1 scaled and gutted sea bass (approximately 500g)
- Corn oil to brush
- 1 lime
- 75g sweet soy sauce or kicap manis
- Wash, clean and pat dry the sea bass. Stuff the cavity of the fish with the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, sliced garlic and Vietnamese coriander.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Then, add in the rock salt and mix until well-combined.
- Wrap a metal tray with aluminium foil. Place a bed of the rock salt and egg white mixture (approximately 1/3 of the mix). Put a few kaffir lime leaves on top as they will perfume the fish as it cooks.
- Next, lay the stuffed sea bass on the salt mixture and brush a thin layer of oil onto the top side of the sea bass skin.
- Then, cover the fish with the remaining 2/3 of the rock salt and egg white mixture. Ensure you leave the head and tail of the sea bass exposed. This is a fun process, so get your children involved!
- Place in a preheated oven at 230°C for 30 minutes. Then, remove and allow the sea bass to rest for 10 minutes before breaking the salt cover with a tablespoon. Be careful not to puncture the flesh of the fish.
- Next, remove the skin. While this may be the best part for some, it can be too salty to be eaten.
- Place the sweet soy sauce and lime wedges on the side. Serve with hot, steamed white rice for a simple yet scrumptious dish!
‘Tim Cooks’ is sponsored by ChefHub, KitchenPlan, Hotelware Concept and Visionary Solutions.
To enjoy chef Tim’s food in person, head on over to:
Hungry Bacon [NON-HALAL]
33, Jalan SS21/56b
47400 Petaling Jaya
Contact: 012-355 0857