Pan Seared Sea Bass with Thai Red Curry

Still on the hunt for fresh kaffir lime leaves today, I came up empty handed.  They are apparently still banned from import by the USDA.  I was, however, able to procure a package of dried leaves in an unmarked package.  It wasn't until I got home that I noticed there was no marking of what was inside the package and no usual nutritional information or ingredient information.  Hmmm?  Have I entered the underground world of spice trade?  Who knows, but hopefully, my coconut curry will turn out right.

1 lb of Chilean Sea Bass
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
3 dried kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tsp fish sauce

Combine coconut milk and curry paste in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil and simmer for about 7 minutes.  Add fish sauce and lime leaves.  Lime zest is an okay substitute, but I find it imparts a bit of bitterness.  To offset this, you can blanche the zest in boiling water for a few seconds.  But in the end, it doesn't quite give the same flavor as the lime leaves.  Right before serving, add in basil just to wilt.

Slice the sea bass at an angle into smaller pieces.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sear in a hot pan, with a little vegetable oil, for a couple minutes a side.  The dried leaves were maybe not as fragrant as fresh, but nonetheless did their work.  I will use a couple more next time.   As usual, the sea bass did not disappoint.  The hard sear, producing a crispy outside, accentuated the moistness and richness of the fish.


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