This is a dish inspired by our friends over at Tuck Shop. We wanted a fresh and healthy dinner and thought that using chayote the same way as green papaya is used in that typical Thai salad would most likely work out great. The fish is prepared by removing the spine/bones but leaving the head and tail to give you all the benefits of a whole roast fish but all the ease of eating as a filet. This allows you to get an ultra crispy skin and moist flesh inside. So warm up in a healthy way during the cold months with this spicy and savory fish!
1 whole farmed striped bass http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_factsheet.aspx?fid=31
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 habanero chili pepper, seeded
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 plum tomatoes (we used kumoto’s because they were the only local greenhouse)
1 chayote peeled and cut into julienne (a mandolin will come in handy here)
1 5” piece of daikon radish peeled and cut into julienne
1 carrot peeled and cut into julienne
½ cup of snow peas
¼ cup peanuts, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 cups cooked rice, for serving
To start clean your fish. Ask your fishmonger to scale your fish and gut it; this will save you some hassle and mess at home. Now to remove the bones you are going to cut the fish exactly as if you were going to make a filet but stop 1 inch before the end of the tail and 1 inch before the head. Do the same thing on the other side and flip the fish over. Remove the bones from the interior of the fish and using a pair of scissors cut out the collarbone and clip the spine at the head and tail. You should now be able to remove all the bones in one piece. Trim the filets nicely and use some tweezers to remove the last of the pin bones. If you are not feeling this ambitious, you could always have an equally delicious dish using prepared filets. Reserve your fish in the refrigerator.
Place the ginger, garlic, habanero and about 1/3 cup of chopped coriander stems in the bowl of a molcajete (mortar and pestle) or if lacking this piece of equipment in a bowl with any blunt object as your weapon. Mash the ingredients together and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of fish sauce and the juice of ½ lemon to help create a paste, a pinch of salt might help at this stage also. Once you have formed a paste remove 1 heaping tablespoon and mix it with the curry paste and 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Spread this paste inside the fish on the flesh side only and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients.
Seed your tomatoes and cut them into a fine dice. Remove the strings from your snow peas and cut into little diamonds.
Heat your oven to 450F. Heat a pan with 3 tbsp vegetable oil on maximum until the oil is smoking. Season your fish with salt and place in the pan, cook about 4 minutes then flip and put in the oven for about 10 minutes until very crispy on the out side and just cooked inside.
While your fish is cooking, place the chayote, carrot and daikon juliennes in the bowl of the molcajete. Add the peanuts, rice vinegar, the rest of the fish sauce and the juice of ½ lemon and mash with the pestle. Add the snow peas, diced tomatoes and a handful of roughly chopped coriander to the bowl and mash lightly to extract all of the flavor. Taste the salad and season with more vinegar or fish sauce if needed.
Remove the fish from the oven and serve on top of the rice on a bit platter with the salad on the side.