Seared Fish With A Fresh Herb Topping (Photo: Ng Sor Luan/The Straits Times)

After some mad feasting during festive periods or public holidays, I look for recipes that deliver maximum flavour but with less bulk and calories.

This recipe comprises a small piece of fish, sans bones and seared, topped with a herb topping that is left uncooked.

Since the herbs are left fresh, they make a lovely, sweet and aromatic topping for the fish.

10 Lucky Foods To Eat During Chinese New Year fish
Fish is always included in a healthy diet and the American Heart Association says you should eat fish at least twice a week.

I used Japanese mackerel or saba, because I like its rich, meaty flavour.

But next time, I will use a fish with a more subtle flavour, like a snapper. Fish delivers lots of nutrients, plus the important omega-3 fatty acids.

When you buy fish, pick one that is firm and glistening, with a mild odour that smells of the sea. You can get the fishmonger to debone the fish.

I served this seared fish with a small mound of brown rice and some greens, steamed or left raw as a salad.

I did not bother with a cooked sauce, but merely drizzled the fish with a light soya sauce and some lemon or lime juice before serving.

Amazingly, that was enough. But then, that is what we usually do with steamed fish. We serve it with a basic sauce, comprising just soya sauce and oil.

It is the herb topping that makes the dish interesting. This one relies on a couple of herbs commonly used in South-east Asian cuisine, and these are growing in my garden.

I picked kaffir lime leaves and torch ginger bud for the citrusy and floral fragrance, red chilli for spice and colour, and tiny shallots, sliced finely, for a sweet bite.

Aside from its fragrance, kaffir lime leaves are said to have a host of benefits, including improving digestion, lowering inflammation and reducing stress.

Torch ginger, on the other hand, is traditionally touted to help reduce inflammation and treat the loss of appetite, among other things.

Seared Fish With A Fresh Herb Topping (Photo: Ng Sor Luan/The Straits Times)

Their colours help to beautify this dish as the fish would otherwise be served plainly seared.

And the good thing is that you do not need to cook the fish too long. A light sear, taking less than a minute on each side, would do.

Serve it with the flesh side up to bring out the pretty colours of the herbs.

Get Sylvia Tan’s Seared Fish With A Fresh Herb Topping recipe here.

Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer and cookbook author. Her most recent recipes can be found in two cookbooks, Eat To Live and Taste.

Text: Sylvia Tan/The Straits Times / Photos: Nivash Joyvin/The Straits Times,

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