Whole Roasted Sea Bass with Chile Garlic Vinegar
Thomas J. Story
Total Time 1 hr
AuthorCharles Olalia

This beautiful make-ahead recipe is perfect for backyard parties. You can prepare and tie up these bundles in the morning and store them in the refrigerator until cook time while you tend to other party preparations. Not only do the banana leaves add flavor, but they also make for a stunning presentation. If you can’t source banana leaves, aluminum foil can be substituted—but it won’t add that intoxicating banana-leaf aroma.

Serves 4

How to Make It

1

In a small bowl, combine chiles, garlic, vinegar, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high (about 450°) heat.

3

Cut three 2-in. diagonal slashes in the fish, approximately 2 in. apart. Using a spoon, spread shrimp paste evenly on each side of the fish, taking care to spread the paste into the slashes. Dividing equally, place lemongrass, ginger, lime, chiles, salt, and one sprig of cilantro in the cavity of each fish.

4

Cut banana leaves into 10- by 16-in. rectangles. Make a rectangle out of two layers of banana leaves and place 1 fish in the middle of the rectangle. Wrap the fish as you would wrap a burrito. Using kitchen twine, tie into a tight bundle. Repeat for the second fish.

5

Place banana leaf-wrapped fish on cooking grate. Cook until banana leaf is charred on one side, about 15 minutes. Turn fish over and cook 5 to 10 minutes more. Unwrap fish. The flesh should no longer be translucent and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145°. Serve fish at the table on banana leaves with chile vinegar on the side.

Ingredients

CHILE GARLIC VINEGAR
 3 Thai bird chiles, roughly chopped
 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
 2 cups calamansi vinegar, or 1 1⁄2 cups white vinegar mixed with 1⁄2 cup lemon juice
Sea Bass
 2 whole sea bass (about 3 lbs. each), such as striped sea bass, black bass, or branzino, cleaned and gutted
 4 tbsp shrimp paste
 1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into 3-in. sections
 1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, sliced into 1⁄4-inch rounds
 1 lime, sliced into 1⁄4-in. rounds
 2 Thai bird chiles, chopped
 2 sprigs cilantro
 Kosher salt
 6 fresh or frozen banana leaves

Directions

1

In a small bowl, combine chiles, garlic, vinegar, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high (about 450°) heat.

3

Cut three 2-in. diagonal slashes in the fish, approximately 2 in. apart. Using a spoon, spread shrimp paste evenly on each side of the fish, taking care to spread the paste into the slashes. Dividing equally, place lemongrass, ginger, lime, chiles, salt, and one sprig of cilantro in the cavity of each fish.

4

Cut banana leaves into 10- by 16-in. rectangles. Make a rectangle out of two layers of banana leaves and place 1 fish in the middle of the rectangle. Wrap the fish as you would wrap a burrito. Using kitchen twine, tie into a tight bundle. Repeat for the second fish.

5

Place banana leaf-wrapped fish on cooking grate. Cook until banana leaf is charred on one side, about 15 minutes. Turn fish over and cook 5 to 10 minutes more. Unwrap fish. The flesh should no longer be translucent and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 145°. Serve fish at the table on banana leaves with chile vinegar on the side.

Whole Roasted Sea Bass with Chile Garlic Vinegar