Friday 2 March 2012

Vietnamese Inspired Pan-fried Sea Bass with Pineapple, noodle salad and piquant dressing

Pan-fried Sea Bass with Pineapple, noodle salad and piquant dressing
Mung bean/glass noodles
The noodles turn translucent after soaking in warm water
Prepared ingredients
The salad dressing with the onions and carrots
Marinating the fish
Pan fry the fish in a hot frying pan

What a glorious day it was yesterday. The sun was shining and people were all out in the park enjoying the long awaited spring sunshine. I too, had a lovely afternoon in the park, munching through my bánn mì at lunch time. It was a delicious treat and I was inspired to create a vietnamese dish after that.

I knew immediately it has to be some form of salad. What could be more perfect than to have a fresh and light supper on a lovely day like this, perhaps even with a nice glass of chilled wine or two. I want to take the influence from the fish bánn mì that I was eating and turn it into a more glorified dinner. Vietnamese cuisine are known for their simplicity and freshness so whatever I came up with will have to reflect that. I like the idea of the fish being marinated in turmeric and lemongrass, it gave it a lovely colour and a very subtle gingerly sweetness, perfect when pairing with some fresh fish.

The salad itself will need some crunch, sweetness, spicy hit and loads of fresh herbs. The cucumber, fresh pineapple, chillies and mint provided this beautifully. Just to make it more substantial, I have also added mung bean noodles, otherwise known as cellophane or glass noodles. The noodles turned translucent when cooked and is silky and light, perfect for what I am trying to achieve here with the dish. The noodles are available in all good Chinese supermarket. You can, of course, substitute this with the thin rice vermicelli which is much more commonly found in all supermarket. Thinly sliced carrots and onions were also pickled in the dressing beforehand to take away the rawness and thereby provided with a more delicate sweetness rather than a pungent rawness. The ending result is simply sublime. It was fresh, light and packed full of flavours. The sweet, sour and spiciness that are normally associated with Vietnamese food were all presence.

(Serves 2)


2 sea bass fillet, or any other white fish fillets
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lime 
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the Salad:
125g dried mung bean/glass noodles or fine rice noodles, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes until 
    soften and drained
1/2 cucumber, halves, deseeded and cut into small chunks
75g prepared pineapple, cut into small chunks
a small handful of fresh mint leaves
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

For the Dressing:
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 small red onions, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, cut into thin matchsticks or julienne
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a dish large enough to hold the fish, combine the turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, lime juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the fish in the marinade and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing for the salad. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix, add the onion and carrot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 30 minutes.

When ready to cook the fish, remove the fillet from the marinade and wipe off any excess with kitchen paper. Heat up the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until smoking, lay the fillet skin-side down and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Turn the fish over and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad. Pour in the dressing and toss to to mix. 

To serve, place a portion of the salad onto a plate and top with the fish, drizzle over some of the dressing.

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