Sichuan sea bass

Serves 10

This is a fiery dish that you often get in Sichuan restaurants, but don't worry, it's not as hot as it sounds and will only give you a slight tingle on your tongue.

In Sichuan cookery a light sesame oil would be used but rapeseed oil, once infused with the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns, will certainly take on this interesting combination of spices.

I've used sea bass here as they are in abundance at the moment down in Lyme Bay, but you could use other firm-fleshed fish such as grey mullet, or even small flat fish such as dabs or flounder.

4x 250g sea bass fillet portions, boned and with the skin left on
250-300ml rapeseed oil
3tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
30 small dried red chillies
A couple of tablespoons of sea salt
A few sprigs of coriander

Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the Sichuan peppercorns, chillies and salt. Add the sea bass to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let the fish sit in the oil for another minute or so. 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 and Sichuan peppercorns and place on to some kitchen paper. Serve scattered with some more chillies and Sichuan peppercorns and a little oil and a good sprig of coriander.

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