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This spicy Thai-style steamed sea bass is blanketed in garlic and chillies for a flavourful dish that serves any feasting occasion.


  • 1 whole sea bass (800 g)
  • ⅓ tsp salt
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, use 15 cm from root end
  • 220 ml chicken or fish stock
  • 2 coriander roots
  • 20 g Thai palm sugar
  • 80 g garlic, chopped
  • 60 g shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 7 chilli padi (20 g)
  • 50 ml fish sauce
  • 60 ml lime juice
  • 40 g fresh coriander (with stems)
  • 1.5 litres of water (for boiling the fish)

Rinse the sea bass and pat dry. Rub the salt into both the interior cavity and exterior of the fish.


Stuff the fish cavity with the lemongrass.


Place the sea bass in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 15 mins before you want to start steaming it.


To prepare the lime and chilli dressing, bring chicken or fish stock to a boil in a saucepan.


Add the coriander roots and simmer over low heat for 5 mins.


Add the palm sugar, garlic and shallots, and allow the mixture to reach a simmering boil.


Add the chillies, fish sauce and lime juice.


Turn off the heat. Bring the dressing to a simmering boil just before fish is cooked.


Bring 1 litre of water to boil in a wok. Place a steaming plate above the waterline in the wok.


Place the fish with its belly flaps splayed out, on a piece of parchment paper (35 cm by 25 cm) on the steaming plate.


Cover and steam for 12 to 13 mins. The eyes of the fish should turn an opaque white when cooked. Use a fine skewer to pierce the thickest part of the fish. The meat should give way easily when cooked through.


Transfer the fish onto a serving dish. Pour hot lime and chilli dressing over the steamed fish.


Garnish with coriander and serve immediately.

ABOUT THE CHEF: Hedy Khoo is the columnist for The New Paper‘s HED CHEF which features Asian cuisine and recipes. You can follow Hedy on her Instagram account @hedchefhedykhoo for more of her culinary adventures.

Recipe: Hedy Khoo / Photo: The New Paper

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