Lovin’ Pastes: Stupid-Easy Thai Chili Bass

Posted by Nads on November 27, 2012

Ok so I know that any recipe that starts with stupid easy doesn’t sound exactly enticing but there is really no other way to accurately describe how SERIOUSLY delish and ridiculously easy this recipe is.  The secret weapon here is to begin with a paste.  I learned about the power of pastes years ago.  They are very popular in Southeast Asian/Indonesian/Indian cooking (similar to a curry concept) where they are used as a flavor base for almost anything.  We’ve spent a lot of time traveling throughout this part of the world and I’ve had a chance to go to some amazing cooking schools.  One of the best techniques I picked up was to cook with pastes.

Pastes are basically a whole load of local fresh ingredients, spices and herbs mashed together in a mortar and pestle and used to flavor, well, everything.  Here in Toronto, I’ve replaced the mortar and pestle with my Cuisinart (although I did lug several of these stone puppies home from my travels but please don’t remind my husband.  He has not so fond memories of Thai men pointing and laughing at him as he lugged a huge one of these through a market one hot afternoon).   I almost always have some kind of paste stored in my freezer.  They freeze in cubes very very well and I use them for marinades, sauces and seasoning.   You can make them with tons of different flavor combinations.  This one is a Thai basic and can be used on fish, pork, chicken, steak, steamed vegetables or even in a soup – I have used it on all of these and it is fantastic every time.  The other amazing fact about pastes is that they are jammed with flavor without the use of salt, anything artificial and very little, if no fat.  SOOO healthy.  I usually make a big batch of paste at once and freeze in portions.  Once you have the paste on hand, this recipe literally takes about 15 mins from stove to table.  This is NOT a typo.  It is really stupid easy.

Thai Chile Paste (XL batch):

1 1/2 fresh Thai chilis

1 cup garlic (not a typo)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 tbsp. shrimp paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp cane sugar

2 tsp salt

1. Blend 1/2 the oil and all other ingredients in food processor.

2. Heat remaining oil in a saucepan.  Cook paste on low heat stirring frequently until paste darkens and deepens in color, about 5 mins.

3. Adjust salt and sugar to taste if necessary.

4. Will store in refrigerator for two weeks or up to 4 months in the freezer.

To make fish: take any white fish (although I have used salmon too).  Brush with lemon juice and spread with paste.

Then bake for 10 mins at 350.  This is for fairly thin filets like the one shown above.  Fatter filets, chicken or pork will require longer times accordingly.  Sprinkle with some chopped cilantro and lime slices and serve.  That’s it!!!




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