seabass with sweet potato and coconut curry

This week I have made a really simple and versatile dish of pan fried seabass with a sweet potato and coconut red curry. Sea bass is a firm white fish with a very pleasing, almost meaty texture grown in popularity over the last few years due to its flavour and striking silver skin – which crisps up nicely and looks amazing on the plate. It’s not however just a pretty fish, it can stand up to and absorb many flavours. Popular in Mediterranean seafood restaurants where it’s often paired with tomatoes and basil giving a really fresh summer-time flavour and used in Chinese dishes, fried and seasoned with Sichuan pepper, garlic and ginger resulting in a lip numbing spicy dish that is not for the faint hearted.

The sweet potato and coconut curry is a dish that on its own makes a great vegetarian main course however I would be inclined to also add some chickpeas for protein. The richness of the coconut milk and the warming spice of the red curry paste and ginger are a perfect match for the crisp sea bass. It really is very easy to make your own red curry paste but there are really good ones now in supermarkets, which will make this meal so simple to prepare. If you were making this for a dinner party the red curry could be made ahead leaving only the frying of the fish to worry about when your guests are dining, allowing you more time to socialise with a glass of crisp aromatic white wine – I find a Viognier pairs well with this. Enjoy.


words – Justin Maule

The Method

Serves 4

1tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 tin coconut milk
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
500ml vegetable stock
1tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime plus extra lime wedges for serving
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2tbsp brown sugar
small bunch fresh basil, chopped
small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
basmati rice, cooked as instructed

2tbsp olive oil
4 seabass fillets trimmed
sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a fairly large pan. Add the onion and saute stirring occasionally until it starts to brown.
2. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about a minute, stirring until fragrant.
3. Add the veg stock, curry paste, sweet potato, and carrot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 10 mins.
4. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, red pepper, lime juice, and sugar. Bring back to boil then let it simmer for another 10 mins or until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in half the chopped herbs and set aside.
5. Season the seabass with salt and black pepper. Heat a frying pan till hot, add oil, then place the fish skin side down and press gently with a fish slice to stop the skin from curling. Reduce heat to medium and leave the fish to cook for 3-4 mins till cooked 3/4 way up the flesh and the skin is crispy.
6. Turn fish and cook for a further 1-2 mins, basting the skin with the hot oil, remove from pan and keep warm.
7. Place rice in warmed bowls, spoon over the curry and finish with the seabass on top scattered with the remaining herbs.