Pan-fried sea bass with Asian noodle salad in a ginger and black bean broth.

Wonderful dish for summer – and the fishcakes are an added bonus.

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For the noodle salad:

1  “bird’s nest” of egg noodles.

½ Carrot, peeled and cut in to fine strips.

2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced.*

½ red pepper, de-seeded, trimmed and finely sliced.*

2-3 asparugus spears, trimmed and cut in to 2 cm pieces.

6 mangetouts, finely sliced.

1 inch/ 2 cm fennel, trimmed and finely sliced.

1 tablespoon fennel fronds, finely chopped.

1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped.*

1 tablespoon Thai basile leaves, finely chopped.

¼  fresh chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced.

2 tablespoons olive oil.


For the dressing:

2 tablespoons tamarind water.

1 teaspoon  lime juice.*

1 teaspoon lime zest.*

2 heaped tsp toasted and black sesame seeds.


For the fish and fishcakes:

2  fillets of sea bass, trimmed 1 cm from head end and 2cm from tail end.*

Salt and pepper.

Olive oil

1 tablespoon mashed potato.

Fish trimmings, skinned and chopped in to small dice.

2  French beans, chopped small.

1 teaspoon coriander, finely chopped.*

1 teaspoon lime juice.*

1 teaspoon lime zest.*

Salt and pepper.


For the broth:

¼ pint  fish or vegetable stock.

1 teaspoon preserved and dried salted black beans.

½  clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced.

1 teaspoon root ginger, peeled and finely shredded.

1 tablespoon red pepper, finely sliced.*

2 teaspoons  oyster sauce.

2 drops fish sauce.

1 teaspoon coriander, finely chopped.*

1 stick lemon grass.

1 spring onion, cut in to 4 pieces.*

1 teaspoon butter

Pepper only.

6 small pakchoi leaves.


Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Drain in a colander after 90 seconds and then run cold water through the noodles to prevent them cooking further.

Add all the other ingredients and mix through the noodles.

Mix the dressing and stir through the noodles with the sesame seeds – set aside while you cook the fish.

Mix together all the fishcake ingredients and form in to small cakes of even thickness.

Heat the pan and add the oil to cover the bottom.  Sprinkle a little sea salt over the pan.

Place the fishcakes in the pan.

Season the skin side of the fish and place in to the pan skin-side down – season the flesh side.  Press down on the fish to stop it curling.

Turn the fishcakes once they have cooked for 2 minutes.

Turn the fish after 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow fish to continue cooking for a further minute before moving to warm serving plate.

Meanwhile, make the broth by adding all the ingredients (except the butter and pakchoi) to a small pan and bring to a simmer.  Add the butter and allow to mix and simmer for a further minute.

Add the pakchoi leaves and serve (leaving the lemon grass and spring onions in the pan).

My Tips:

This looks like a long list of ingredients but some appear in different parts of the recipe and are marked *.

As long as you use the oriental flavourings, you can use other vegetables such as sugar snaps, courgettes, different peppers, or whatever you have available.

Skinning the trimmings works best if the knife is held at less than 45 degrees to the board.

I’m told that the pinch of salt in the pan before frying the fish helps to avoid it sticking.

The black beans are very salty so only season the broth with pepper.  These beans have the umami taste (like Marmite) so can be used in meat dishes too.  They are available in oriental shops and are better than black bean sauce.  They keep for ages – just getting rather drier.

Tamarind water is made by simmering a block of dried tamarind and then putting through a sieve.  You could end up with a lot of water!  Although it probably freezes, it might be easier to buy tamarind paste/extract and then use 1 teaspoon of this with another teaspoon of water.  Tamarind is also good in curries.

You can prepare the fish and fishcakes beforehand and keep in the fridge, prepare the noodles but serve at room temperature and make the broth while the fish cook – ideal for a quick supper if everything is ready.

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© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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