The aromatic blend of South-East Asian herbs and spices will give this seafood dish the edge at any dinner party.
For this recipe you will need a steamer.
45g/1½oz fresh galangal, peeled, chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed, chopped
1 small bunch fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
2 lime leaves, shredded
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
50g/2oz brown shrimps
2 tbsp vegetable oil
400g/14oz can coconut milk
1-2 tsp turmeric paste
100g/4oz black lentils
For the spiced lentils, pound the galangal, chilli, coriander stalks (reserve the leaves), lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic and shrimps to a paste using a pestle and mortar. (Alternatively, blend the ingredients in a food processor.)
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan over a low heat and cook the paste for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk and turmeric paste. Reduce the heat down to its lowest setting and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced and the sauce has thickened. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean pan.
Meanwhile, wash the black lentils and check for any grit. Cook them in a pan of boiling water for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Drain well.
Stir the cooked lentils into the coconut sauce. Keep warm.
For the tempura, whisk the flours and water together in a bowl to form a batter with the consistency of single cream. Add the shallot rings and basil leaves. Chill in the fridge until needed.
For the fish, brush the John Dory fillets on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the banana leaf into a steamer and place the fillets on top of it. Steam the fish for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz boiling water in a pan, bring to the boil and immediately add the cockles and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the shells have opened - discard any that remain closed. Drain well.
For the tempura, half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with vegetable oil until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped in it. (Caution: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Shake off any excess batter from the shallot rings and basil leaves and deep-fry in the oil for 10-20 seconds, or until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
For the spinach, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until just wilted.
For the garnish, mix the reserved coriander leaves, chilli and coconut together. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
To serve, divide the spinach among four plates and sit the steamed fish on top. Spoon the spicy lentils and cockles around the fish. Garnish with the tempura and the coconut mixture, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
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