Sea Bass With Coconut Rice, Peanuts, And Kumquat Sambal

My brother and sister-in-law sent me Suzanne Goin’s AOC cookbook for Christmas. This cookbook contains recipes that are restaurant quality and at the same time very doable in a home kitchen -something that's not always easy to find.  The recipe below has alot of ingredients and might look a little intimidating, but once you find everything and  prepare the mise en place, it's actually a very easy recipe. I did; however, have some difficulty finding all the ingredients - some I found at a local Asian market (e.g., the shrimp paste and palm sugar) and some I had to substitute (e.g., sea bass for red snapper). I also substituted the peanuts for cashews because I like cashews better.   What makes this dish amazing is the spicy Thai flavors combined with the citrus and sweet taste of the kumquats.  So if you are fan of seafood and like a little Thai influence, then give this recipe a try.  I promise you won't be disappointed.
Makes 6 servings



  • 6 fillets sea bass, 5 to 6 oz. each, skin on (original recipe called for pink snapper)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest plus 1⁄2 lime for juice
  • 6 tablespoons sliced cilantro
  • 7 tablespoons grape-seed oil, plus more, if needed
  • 1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile de árbol
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced shallots, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 canned tomato, preferably San Marzano or Muir Glen, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup Spanish peanuts (I used cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 9 kumquats, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced scallions, cleaned and dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the coconut rice:

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar or 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt



Step 1: Season the fish with the lime zest and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Step 2: Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook and remove the fish from the refrigerator, to let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Step 3: To make the sambal: heat a medium sauté pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in 3 tablespoons grape-seed oil, and add the bell pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often, and then add the ground chile, and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another few minutes, until the pepper begins to caramelize, adding another tablespoon of oil if the pan starts to look dry.
Step 4: Add 2 tablespoons shallots and the garlic, season with a heaping 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and the sugar, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize.
Step 5: Add the shrimp paste, and use a wooden spoon to break it up and help it toast in the oil and combine with the pepper. Once the shrimp paste has become integrated with the pepper, add the tomato to the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the tomato is cooked down and glazes the pepper. Cool for a few minutes, and then purée in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Step 6: While the sambal is cooking, spread the peanuts (or cashews) on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they smell nutty. 
Step 7: When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, brush the fish with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish on the grill, skin-side down, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating the fish once, until it’s nicely colored on the first side. Turn the fish over, and cook for a few more minutes, until it’s just barely cooked through.
Step 8: While the fish is cooking, heat 1⁄4 cup grape-seed oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, let it cook for 1 minute, then add the remaining tablespoon shallots to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Step 9: When the shallots and ginger are sizzling in the oil, add the sambal, the kumquats, the peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir well to combine, and taste for balance and seasoning. Cook for a minute more, turn off the heat, and add the remaining 1⁄4 cup cilantro.
Step 10: For the coconut rice: Cover the rice with 2 cups water and set aside to soak at room temperature for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain the rice, and rinse it three times in a fine colander. 
Step 11: Cook rice in a rice cooker until done.
Step 12: Meanwhile, bring the coconut milk, palm sugar and 2-1/2 teaspoons salt to boil over medium heat; boil, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.  When the salt and sugar have dissolved pour the coconut mixture over the rice. Let sit for 5 minutes which the rice absorbs the coconut milk. Stir and taste for seasoning before serving.
Step 13: To assemble the dish: Spoon approximately 1⁄2 cup hot coconut rice onto the center of each of six dinner plates. Scatter the sliced scallions over the rice, and place the fish, skin-side up, on top. Spoon generous amounts of kumquat sambal over the fish, letting it soak down into the rice.



This looks so good! Can't wait to try it. I love kumquats!

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