Sea bass with tarka dhal, coriander salad and buttered kale

Dominic Chapman pairs the delicate flavour of sea bass with the punch of Indian spices with his tarka dhal recipe. An aromatic mixture of soft yellow lentils cooked slowly with toasted spices including cumin, coriander and ginger, the dhal is finished with fresh cherry tomatoes and coriander for balance.

First published in 2016




Sea bass

Tarka dhal

Coriander salad

Buttered kale


Before starting, soak the yellow lentils for the tarka dhal in cold water for 30 minutes
Meanwhile, blanch the large tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds then drain and cool. Peel and discard the skins then dice the flesh and set aside
Add a dash of olive oil to a pan set over a medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and coriander seeds and fry until lightly browned and aromatic
Add the rest of the dry spices and salt to the pan and cook out for 2 minutes – if it looks like the spices might start to catch and burn, add a splash of water to loosen
Stir in the reserved diced tomatoes along with the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for another 5 minutes to create a thick sauce, again adding a splash of water if needed to prevent it catching
Drain the soaked lentils and add to the pan. Cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring constantly so that they are evenly coated in the spiced mixture
Add 300ml of the hot water, stirring in until fully absorbed by the lentils. Keep adding the wtaer, a ladle at a time, as if making a risotto. Once all the water has been absorbed, the lentils should be soft with a smooth consistency
  • 800ml of hot water
Mix in the butter to give a silky finish and adjust the seasoning to taste. Keep warm while preparing the fish and salads
For the salad, blanch the tomato in boiling water then cool and peel. Remove the seeds then cut into thin slices
Toss together with the red onion and cucumber slices and a good splash of olive oil and lemon juice to dress, before mixing in the coriander shoots
To cook the sea bass, add a drizzle of oil to a non-stick frying pan and place over a medium heat. Place the fillet portions skin-side down in the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden
Flip the sea bass over carefully then add a knob of butter to the pan and baste the fish as it melts. Remove from the pan and season with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving
Blanch the kale in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and toss with the butter and a little seasoning to coat, squeezing out any excess liquid before serving
Mix the quartered cherry tomatoes and chopped coriander through the warm dhal then divide between serving plates. Add a mound of the buttery kale and top with the sea bass. Garnish with the coriander salad and a drizzle of olive oil to serve

Dominic Chapman's passion for food is in the blood: his family has owned and run the highly acclaimed Castle Hotel in Taunton for over 60 years.

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