Tandoori paste is a true culinary chameleon. In Indian cuisine, it is commonly used with chicken in the eponymously titled dish. But there are so many more possibilities. We just purchased some sea bass for a dinner party, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to marry the very strong blend of flavors in the tandoori paste with the rich, buttery texture of the sea bass.
Speaking of marriage, the idea for a tandoori glaze came to me after our wedding reception menu tasting. It was almost 5 years ago. How time flies! Anyway, our caterer gave us a lot of samples to taste before the big day. One of the options was a hoisin glazed roasted Chilean sea bass. It tasted wonderful and it got me thinking about other "ethnic" flavors to marinate the fish.
Look at the buttery succulent texture of the sea bass. Mmm.
2 Tbs ginger garlic paste
1-1/2 cups full fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3 tsp garam masala spice mix, see tips
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbs oil
2 tsp grey salt, or regular salt
4 (6-oz) white sea bass steaks
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp white peppercorns, freshly ground
2 tsp cayenne pepper, or paprika for a milder taste
1 tsp smoked paprika powder
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
Clean and skin the sea bass. Pat dry using a paper towel Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Pour off the excess whey of the yogurt by letting it drain through a cheese cloth for about 15 minutes. Add all ingredients of the marinade (ginger garlic paste, vinegar, paprika, garam masala spice mix and oil) and mix together with the yogurt. Spread all the mixture over the fish. Place the fish in a bowl. Make sure all the marinade penetrates and coats the fish. Rub evenly. Plastic wrap the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the fish from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking to bring it back to room temperature. Remove and reserve the excess tandoori marinade.
In a non-stick pan that can be used in the oven, heat the oil and cook the garlic until it is slightly golden. Add the fish; sear it, skin side down. Cook for about 6-8 minutes. Flip the fish using a fish spatula. Cook for another 2 minutes. Baste the fish with the rest of the tandoori marinade using a silicone brush.
Immediately transfer to the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden. The marinade should totally be absorbed. Baste the fish one more time with the tandoori marinade. Broil for 2-3 minutes more minutes. It's ready!
Garnish with lemon wedges. You can serve with sautéed morel mushrooms, lemon-braised fennel, sun-dried tomato-flavored mashed potatoes or any other basic accompaniments that you'd like. Serve immediately.
At the end, if it's not golden brown enough, change setting to a low broil for 3 minutes. Then remove the fish from the oven.
The secret to well-cooked sea bass is to pre-sear it on top of the stove.
Indian cuisine often calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
You can either buy garam masala spice mix in any Indian store or make your own (click on the link to get the recipe) and store it in an airtight container.