Steamed coconut and chilli sea bass with shoestring fries

This easy sea bass recipe sees the fish steamed in a banana leaf with a fresh and aromatic paste of coconut and spices. The fish is topped with a handful of crispy shoestring fries and coriander, resulting in a dish that not only tastes great but has plenty of contrasting texture too. If you can't find banana leaves, regular baking paper can be used instead.

First published in 2021

Avi says: 'Mumbai is a melting pot of cuisines and cultures and this dish is an Irani café classic. It was brought to India by the Parsis who came from Iran and settled in coastal Gujarat. They included fish in their diet and combined a unique mix of Persian and Gujarati cuisines to create this dish.  

It is simple, yet full of flavour and freshness. I particularly love this dish in the autumn in England or in the monsoons in India, when the weather is cold and you crave something comforting, steaming hot and healthy. The combination of coriander leaves and chillies leave your lips tingling and gently warm you up from the inside. The tangy aroma from the lemon and the sweetness from the coconut create a sense of happiness on a dark autumn’s day.'




Sea Bass


Shoestring fries

  • 250g of potatoes, peeled
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying


  • Blender
  • Mandoline with ridged blade



Rub the sea bass fillets with lemon juice and sea salt and place in the fridge for an hour


In the meantime, prepare the shoestring fries. Cut the potatoes into matchsticks, using a mandoline with a julienne blade attached if you have one. Wash and drain the potatoes three times to remove excess starch, then pat the potato as dry as possible using a clean cloth or kitchen paper. Set aside


Place the marinade ingredients in a blender and to a coarse paste, adding a little water if necessary (but as little as possible)


Preheat an oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6


Place the banana leaf (if using) in the oven for a minute so it becomes soft and easy to fold

  • 1/2 banana leaf, cut in half, or 2 sheets of baking paper

Smear a spoonful of the marinade onto each piece of banana leaf and place the fish on top. Spread another spoonful of the marinade on top to coat the whole fish evenly. Fold the leaves into parcels so the fish is completely sealed. Alternatively use a sheet of baking paper and tin foil to create a parcel


Bake the the fish parcels in the oven for 8–10 minutes


As the fish bakes, fry the potatoes. Place a deep pan of sunflower oil over a high heat and heat until 180°C. Once hot, carefully fry off the potato in batches until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt

  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

To serve, place each fish parcel in a dish. Open up the parcels and scatter with a big handful of the shoestring fries. Garnish with chopped coriander and a lemon wedge

After leaving India to perfect his cooking in the UK, Avinash Shashidhara worked his way through restaurants including The River Cafe before opening Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai, where he serves ingredient-led Indian dishes inspired by traditional recipes.

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