Steamed Fish in Coconut Broth Recipe

WARNING: this coconut broth is so good, you may want to drink it (and that's ok).
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour


for the squash:
½ zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the broth:
¾ cup|177 ml chicken stock
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 Thai chilies (2 smashed, 1 thinly sliced)
1 lime, zest removed with a vegetable peeler
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
1 (13 ½-ounce|383-gram) can coconut milk
1 (2-inch) piece galangal, roughly chopped
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, roughly chopped
8 makrut leaves, crumpled in your hands
1 bunch coriander roots
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 scallion, thinly sliced
fish sauce, to taste
palm sugar, to taste


for the tomato salad:
7 sungold tomatoes, halved
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 Thai chile, thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
palm sugar, to taste

for the onions:
3 spring onions, halved
2 tablespoons canola oil

for the fish:
4 (4-ounce|113-gram) pieces bass
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste

to serve:
edible flowers


  1. Prepare the zucchini. Place the zucchini on a sheet tray and drizzle with the fish sauce and salt on both sides. Place in the sun for at least 1 hour.
  2. Make the broth: Place the chicken stock, mushrooms, garlic, chilies, lime zest, lemongrass, coconut milk, galangal, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-low. Infuse for at least 30 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and infuse for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Strain, then season to taste with the fish sauce and sugar. Keep warm.
  3. Make the tomato salad: Toss all ingredients in a small bowl and season with the fish sauce and sugar. Set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Prepare the onions: Wipe the skillet clean and heat the canola oil over medium. Add the onions, cut-side down, and cook until golden, 4 minutes. Flip, then add ½ cup|120 ml water and cover. Cook until soft, 3 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a place with the fish.
  5. Cook the fish: Season the fish all over with salt and white pepper. Wrap the fish securely using plastic wrap. Set up a steamer basket on your stovetop. Add the fish and steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until almost cooked through. Place immediately in the freezer until cool enough to handle, then unwrap from the plastic wrap. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the fish, skin-side down, and cook until crisp, 1 ½ minutes. Flip and cook until golden, 2 ½ minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
  6. To serve, Divide the fish and onion halves among 4 plates. Add about ¼ cup|60 ml broth to each plate. Roll the zucchini slices up and divide among the plates. Top with the tomato salad and some edible flowers and herbs.

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