Malaysian-style whole fish

By Jamie Oliver
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It’s really worth sourcing a banana leaf for this spectacular Friday night sea bass dish. Incredible fragrance, amplified flavour and wonderful texture – it’s a real belter!



  • 1 whole sea bass, scaled and gutted (800 g)
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 1 shallot
  • 5-centimetre piece of ginger
  • 3 fresh red chilies
  • 1 lime
  • 6 lime leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 100 grams of unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of low-salt soy sauce
  • 1 large banana leaf (optional)

Coconut rice:

  • 1 mug of jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon of creamed coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 lime


  • 3 mixed-colour chilies
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar


  • 1 lime
  • 1 fresh coconut
  • 75 grams of snow peas
  • 75 grams of sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 of a Chinese cabbage
  • 1/4 of a red cabbage
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh mint (15 g)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander (15 g)
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh basil (15 g)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Whack the lemongrass against your work surface and remove the tough outer layer. Peel the shallot and ginger, deseed the chilies, then roughly chop everything with the lemongrass. Pound to a paste in a large pestle and mortar with a good pinch of sea salt and the lime leaves (discard the stalks).
  3. Toast the peanuts in a large pan over medium heat for three minutes, or until golden, then bash half into the paste. Add the tomato purée and fish sauce, finely grate in the lime zest and squeeze in all the juice, then muddle together.
  4. With a sharp knife, score the sea bass skin at 1 centimetre intervals in a crisscross fashion, then rub all over with the paste, both inside and out.
  5. Get your banana leaf (if using) or tear off a piece of baking paper five times as long as the fish, then fold it in half to give you double thickness. Place the fish in the middle, then fold over to seal the fish snuggly inside. Place on a large baking tray and roast for 25 minutes, or until the flesh is succulent and comes away from the bone easily.
  6. To make the rice, drizzle the vegetable oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Crumble in the creamed coconut, then squeeze in the lime juice, throwing in the squeezed lime halves. Tip in the rice and fry for two minutes, then pour over one mug of boiling water and turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steam for another three minutes.
  7. To make the chilli pickle, finely slice the chilies and place in a small bowl with the sugar, vinegar and a pinch of salt, then mix together and leave aside.
  8. To make the salad, crack open the coconut and finely grate 50 grams of flesh into a bowl. Halve the sugar snaps and snow peas, finely shred the cabbage and cucumber, then peel and finely slice the mango and add it all to the bowl. Pick in most of the herb leaves, squeeze over the lime juice and toss together.
  9. Roughly crush the remaining peanuts in a pestle and mortar, then scatter over the salad and the fish. Drizzle the fish with soy sauce and scatter over the remaining herbs.
  10. Take the fish, chilli pickle, rice and salad to the table and let everyone help themselves.


If using a banana leaf, briefly hold it over a flame – this will make it pliable, and therefore easier to wrap around your fish, but will also get the oils going for maximum flavour!

Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories: 963, Fat: 48.6 grams, Saturated fat: 17.6 grams, Protein: 53.6 grams, Carbohydrates: 82.7 grams, Sugar: 16.5 grams, Salt: 2.3 grams, Fibre: 6.5 grams, Weight of portion: 675.3 grams

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