Recipe: Pan-fried Sea Bass with Spicy Cous Cous, Pickled Radish & Pea Shoots

I’ve recently found the Waltham Forest Food & Drink Society Facebook page, which is a great resource for foodies living in this part of North East London.  The founder Elisabetta, who blogs at the fab Italian-inspired La Mia Kitchenette, sets an ‘ingredient of the week’ on the Facebook page.  This week it was fish, and it has prompted me to finally write up this recipe for Pan-fried Sea Bass with Spicy Cous Cous.


Jo isn’t a huge fish fan, so I don’t cook it as much as I probably would otherwise, but this dish was a big success and was gobbled up, or perhaps I shouldn’t say that as it makes us sound very unrefined. I haven’t included a recipe for pickled radishes (I’ll try to get onto that soon), but they are very easy to make with a pickling liquor of white malt vinegar,sugar and salt. They turn a fabulous neon pink, which pleasingly almost exactly matches the colour of my iPhone 5c! Shallow, me? The radishes add a delicious crunch to this dish and their spiciness perfectly complements the Asian flavours.

Serves 2 hungry people


1 x sea bass (about 500-600g) – gutted, descaled and filleted, or if you prefer you can just get two ready prepared sea bass fillets (about 175g each)

1 tsp butter

A little plain white flour, seasoned well with salt and pepper

100g giant wholewheat cous cous (I love the texture and flavour of this cous cous – I get the Love Live brand at Waitrose)

Half a medium courgette, quartered lengthways and then sliced on the diagonal into 1cm slices

4 spring onions, sliced thinly at an angle, reserve a few slices to garnish the finished dish

2 tsp olive oil

1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced into rings

1 garlic clove, crushed

2cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp light soy sauce (or more to taste)

A couple of wedges of lemon

Pea shoots and a few pickled radishes (optional, to garnish)

Firstly, cook the giant wholewheat cous cous according to the packet instructions.  Make sure you salt the cooking water (or you could add a little boullion or a stock cube) for a really flavoursome result.

Gently pat dry the fish fillets with some kitchen roll and then dip both sides of the fish in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat a grill pan (or a heavy frying pan) over a medium heat.  Butter the skin side of the fish and once the grill pan is hot, but not smoking, add the fish fillets with the skin side down.  Cook for about eight minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy.  Then gently flip the fish over, and cook for approximately another five minutes.  How long the fish takes to cook really depends on the thickness of the fillets, so you will need to use your judgement.  The fish is cooked when it is completely white, no translucent bits.

While the fish is cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan (or a wok) over a medium heat. When hot add the courgettes, season well and cook for a couple of minutes until just starting to go soft.  Next add the chilli, spring onions (reserve a few for garnish) and ginger and cook for another couple of minutes.  Finally add the garlic and cook for one minute more.  Then remove the pan from the heat.

Once the cous cous is cooked drain it and immediately add the sesame oil, soy sauce and mix well.  Now add the courgettes and spring onion mix and gently stir to combine.  Finally stir in the finely chopped coriander.

Make a pile of cous cous in the middle of the plate and top with the pan-fried sea bass.  Garnish with the reserved sliced spring onions, a few pickled radishes, a wedge of lemon and the pea shoots.