Som Saa has quickly become one of the crowning jewels of London’s oriental dining scene with regional Thai dishes incredibly fresh and packed full of flavour. One of our favourite dishes on the menu is the Deep Fried Seabass and while our attempt won’t come close to what you get at the East London site, we will give it a damn good go. Transport yourself to Thailand and create this delicious dish by Andy Oliver.
Serves 2 – 4 as part of a shared Thai meal
For the fish:
1 seabass about 500-600g in weight, gutted and scaled but fins and tail left on
3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
pinch of white sugar
plain oil to deep fry (preferably in a deep fryer, but a wok or high sided frying pan works too)
For the salad:
2 sticks of lemongrass, finely sliced
4-5 thai red shallots, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, washed and thinly sliced
a small handful of sawtooth coriander (also sometimes called Thai parsley), washed an thinly sliced
3-4 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, cut into very fine strips
a small handfull each of picked mint and coriander leaves
2-3 dry chillies, fried briefly in a little oil until dark red an crisp
1 generous tablespoon of roasted rice powder (*see below for method)
For the dressing:
5 tablespoons of lime juice
4 tablespoons of fish sauce
1.5 teaspoon of caster sugar
3 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of roasted chilli powder (**see below for method)
* to make the roasted rice powder: dry toast raw sticky rice in a heavy pan over a low heat until golden brown in colour, allow to cool and then grind to a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar or clean spice / coffee grinder
** to make the roasted chilli powder: slowly dry roast hot dried chillies in a wok or frying over a medium-low heat until dark red and a little blacken in places (about 10-15 minutes) then grind into a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar or clean spice / coffee grinder
To assemble the dish:
Pre heat your deep fryer to 180 degrees C. Score the seabass with three to four angled cuts on each side. Then roll it in the light soy sauce and white sugar. Place the fish in the deep fry basket so it curls slightly (this is just for presentation) and then deep fry it for about 8-10 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the flesh gone a deep golden brown.
While the fish is frying place all the salad ingredients, except the roasted rice powder and fried chillies, in a mixing bowl.
Now make the dressing: mix together the lime juice and sugar until the sugar is all dissolved, now add the fish sauce, water and chilli powder. Taste and adjust: it should be hot, sour and slightly salty. Set aside.
Once the fish is cooked carefully remove from the fryer and allow to drain and cool slightly on kitchen paper for a minute
Now the fish on a large plate or wide bowl and pour 1/3 of the dressing over it, add the remainder of the dressing to the salad in the mixing bowl an serve the salad and all the dressing over the top of the crispy fish.
Garnish with the roasted rice powder and dried chillies.
Our mouths are watering and our stomachs grumbling – a winning dish any time of the year!