Thai-steamed Snapper

Brilliant for a dinner party, you can also use this versatile marinade for fish fillets.  This fish is ideal served with sticky Thai-style rice and a crisp green salad.

Thai Red SnapperIngredients:

11 whole red snapper or other whole sustainable white fish (about 2 kg), descaled, gutted and cleaned
4 limes (1 sliced)
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 bunch of spring onions, topped and sliced (reserve tops for stuffing fish)
1 sweet potato, diced into thumbnail-sized pieces
2.5cm  / 1 in piece of ginger, sliced
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 lemongrass stalks, outer skin removed and roughly chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded (keep the seeds of half a chilli only)
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar

Serves:  4

Step One:  Preheat the oven to 200oC (400oF, gas mark 6).  Cut a piece of wide baking parchment twice the length of your fish.  Fold the parchment in half and then open it, placing one half on a baking tray.  Put the fish on the diagonal on the piece of parchment on the baking tray.

Step Two:  Make slashes in the fish on the diagonal through the skin down to the bone on both sides.  Stuff the cavity with a few slices of lime, half the coriander and the tops of the spring onions.  Scatter sweet potato cubes and spring onion chunks around the fish.

Step Three:  In a food processor, combine the rest of the coriander, ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli and blitz into a paste.  Add the sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and the juice of the remaining 3 limes and blitz again.

Step Four:  Rub this marinade all over the fish and fold the other half of parchment over the fish, wrapping the edges over to close tightly.

Step Five:  Cook in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.  To test if the fish is cooked, remove from the oven and take a peek inside a corner of the parcel, but be careful because the steam will escape.  If the eye of the fish has turned white, this means your fish is cooked.

Step Six:  Open the parcel and serve large chunks of fish on sticky Thai rice topped with a large spoonful of the cooking juices – that is where most of the umami is.

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (December 2015) and taken from At Home with Umami by Laura Santtini.

Restaurateur and inventor of Taste #5 Umami paste Laura Santtini, is credited with making the ‘chef’s best-kept secret’ accessible to home cooks at all levels.  Umami is the savoury fifth basic taste; literally translating from the Japanese to mean ‘savoury deliciousness’, it is universal and can be used in food from every country and culture to make it extra tasty.

In Santtini’s words, umami is, ‘the ultimate expression of flavour; the extra mouthful-ness that makes us say “mmmmm”, the taste that keeps on giving long after its fellow basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour and bitter – are spent.’

In her book, At Home with Umami, Santtini talks about how she has always been fascinated by flavours and the feelings they evoke.  Chapters include ‘Fresh & Uplifting’, ‘Heady & Daring’ and ‘Mellow & Comforting’, so you can check into how you’re feeling and cook full-flavoured food to match your mood.

Spiced Mussels in Coconut Milk

Now that Thai red and green curry pastes are available in most large supermarkets, it takes only minutes to whip up a stunning dish like this.  Fishmongers and large supermarkets now sell ready-cleaned live mussels in 2kg bags, which need only soaking in cold water for 2 hours before cooking.  Discard any which stay open after you give them a tap.

Ingredients:  2 tbsp vegetable oil; 4 shallots, chopped; 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped; 1 x 190g jar or 4 tbsp Thai green curry paste (from most large supermarkets); 1 x 400ml tin coconut milk; 2kg/4 lb 8oz mussels, cleaned; juice of 1 lime, or to taste; 3 tbsp chopped coriander; 1-2 chillies, deseeded and chopped, or to taste.

To Serve:  Lime wedges

  • Heat the oil in a very large, lidded pan (or divide the ingredients in two and use two pans) and stir-fry the shallots and pepper for 8-10 min over a low-medium heat, until softened.  Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 1 min more.
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil, stirring, then turn up the heat, add the mussels and cover the pan/pans tightly.  Cook, shaking occasionally, for a few min or just until all the mussels are open, taking care not to overcook them.
  • Stir in the lime juice, coriander and chilli and serve in warmed bowls with lime wedges to squeeze over.

Red Thai Chicken

A subtle blend of spices combine perfectly with coconut milk and chicken for a wonderfully fragrant mild and creamy curry.

Serves 4; Prep 15 mins; cook: 50 mins; Cals per portion: 333

Ingredients:-  Red curry paste:-  2 red chillies, chopped; 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped; 2.5cm / 1in root ginger, peeled and chopped; 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped; 1 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp ground coriander; 2 tbsp stirfry oil
Chicken curry:-  4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, sliced; 1 onion sliced; 400ml can Thai coconut milk; 1 tbsp mango chutney; 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped; 225g/8oz potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped; handful of freeze dried Kaffir lime leaves

  • Put the chopped chillies, lemongrass, root ginger and garlic cloves with the cumin, coriander and stirfry oil into a pestle and mortar or food processor, and work the mixture to a paste.
  • Fry the curry paste for about three minutes, stirring it continuously.  Then add the sliced chicken breasts and sliced onions, and stirfry until all the chicken pieces have turned white.
  • Gradually pour the Thai coconut milk into the chicken mixture and then stir in the mango chutney.  Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chopped peppers and potatoes, and the Kaffir lime leaves, then simmer for a further 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Serve immediately with Thai fragrant rice.