Master chef, teacher, and author John Ash contributed this delicious recipe, which can be made with any fresh fish (be sure you select your fish from a sustainable source). It's based on a curry mixture called laksa, which originally was a descriptor for noodles, but now has come to mean a spicy, coconut milk-based dish with or without noodles. Its roots are in Indonesia and Malaysia; now it's very popular in trendy restaurants across Australia.
|4||sea bass fillets (3/4 to 1 inch thick, about 1-1/2 pounds)|
|coarse salt (to taste)|
|freshly ground pepper (to taste)|
|3 tablespoons||olive oil (divided)|
|1 cup||chicken stock|
|1 1/2 cups||coconut milk (well stirred)|
|1/2 cup||laksa paste (or to taste, see recipe below)|
|1 pound||Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach|
|Daikon radish or sunflour sprouts (as garnish)|
|2 tablespoons||Asian chile sauce (or to taste)|
|1/3 cup||chopped shallots|
|1/3 cup||chopped, toasted macadamia nuts or blanched almonds|
|1/4 cup||peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger|
|2 tablespoons||coriander seeds (crushed)|
|1 teaspoon||shrimp paste or 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (or to taste)|
|Juice and grated zest of 2 limes|
|2 tablespoons||vegetable oil|
|1 teaspoon||Toasted sesame oil|
|1/2 cup||coconut milk|
Make the laksa paste first. Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk in a blender and purée until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce should be very fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Laksa paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F.
Dry the fish with paper towels, then season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof saute pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add the fillets and sauté on one side until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until the fish has lost its translucency and is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the stock and coconut milk in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and add the laksa paste; keep warm.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and stir-fry until it wilts, about 1 minute. This may need to be done in two batches if your pan is not large enough.
To serve, divide the spinach among 4 wide, shallow bowls, and top each serving with a fish fillet. Ladle the warm broth around the fish, garnish with the sprouts, and serve immediately.