steamed fish with chilli and lime sauce

A Thai-influenced meal that is healthy, low-fat, low-calorie, full of fresh flavours and very tasty. What's not to like?

I have suggested using red snapper or pollock but you could also use hake, sea bass, monkfish or even haddock or cod. As fish stocks decline, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the wide variety of fish caught off British shores. (Just make sure it's all sustainably fished and caught. It doesn't taste any better, but it's good for the seas and probably good for the soul too).

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

4 x 150g fresh fish cutlets, such as red snapper or pollock, or firm white fish. (You could also serve a whole fish, gutted and cleaned)
2 x fresh lemongrass stalks, crushed (I tend to use the end of a heavy knife to give it a good bash) and halved
4 x kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried
3 x slices fresh galangal (or ginger)
250g jasmine rice (or basmati)
100g x sugar-snap peas (or mangetout)
2 x small red peppers, seeded and quartered
3 x garlic cloves
3 x hot red chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped (careful of your hands if you are sensitive . . . rubber gloves for me!)
a small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
juice of 1 x lime
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)

  1. Put the chillies, coriander and garlic in a blender and blend to a rough paste. (Alternatively put in some elbow grease by crushing them using a pestle and mortar.
  2. Whisk the lime juice, sugar and fish sauce.
  3. Add the garlic paste and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Rinse the fish and remove any scales, then pat and dry.
  5. Make a small slit in the flesh and stuff this cavity with a little lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal or ginger. (If using an whole fish, then stuff the entire cavity with all of lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal or ginger).
  6. Place the fish cutlets or entire fish in a steamer over a pan of boiling water. Make sure that you have put enough water in so that it doesn't evaporate. Top up with more boiling water, if necessary. The fish will take about 10 to 15 minutes to steam.
  7. While the fish is cooking, prepare the peppers. Char-grill on a griddle pan or under a grill, on a low heat. You want the peppers to slowly cook but not burn. Char-grilling gives them a smokey-sweet flavour.
  8. Put the sugar snap peas or mangetout in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain and set aside.
  9. Cook the rice by your preferred method.
  10. To serve, place a large spoon of rice in the centre of each of 4 plates. Scatter over the pepper quarters and sugar-snap peas or mangetout. Top with a fish cutlet (or slice of fish if using a whole fish).
  11. Spoon over a little of the chilli and lime sauce. Any additional sauce can be served separately in a small bowl.
  12. Scatter over a little of the chopped coriander.

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