Sichuan sea bass

Serves 10

This is a mini version of the fiery dish that you often get in Sichuan restaurants, but don't worry; it's not as hot as it sounds and will just give you a slight tingle on your tongue. I've used Malaysian shrimp crackers here as a base which you can buy in most good Chinese supermarkets. Unlike your bog-standard prawn crackers, they have a really great flavour and make an ideal base for Asian canapés and snacks. Unroasted sesame oil is commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes and can be found in good halal shops.

250g sea bass fillet, boned and with the skin left on
100ml unroasted sesame oil
1tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
10-12 dried red chillies
A couple of teaspoons of sea salt
A few sprigs of coriander
5 or 6 small Malaysian shrimp crackers
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying



Cut the sea bass into 10 even-sized chunks. Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer.

Break the prawn crackers carefully in half and fry them in the hot oil for a few seconds, turning them as they are cooking until they puff up, then remove with a slotted spoon on to some kitchen paper.

Drain off most of the oil and leave about 100ml or so in the pan and add the sesame oil, Sichuan peppercorns, chillies and salt and reheat gently. Add the sea bass to the oil and cook for about a minute then remove the pan from the heat. You are not actually deep-frying the fish but rather just simmering it in the oil.

To serve, remove the bass from the oil with a few chillies on to some kitchen paper. Place a piece of bass on each prawn cracker with a Sichuan peppercorn and sprinkle a small piece of chilli on too. Garnish with some shredded coriander.

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