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“The meal that made me”
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UK Chef and Presenter Chris Baber stands together with the World Food Programme to draw the attention of the world to the challenges faced by children who go to bed hungry each night and the opportunities that exist when their food needs are met. Chris experienced how food unlocked his own potential and told us about the meal that made him:

“My Pan Fried Sea Bass with Coconut Curry and Spicy Potatoes is the dish that made me because it was my signature dish on BBC cooking competition Yes Chef, this dish took me to win the show. The celebrity chef judge on the day was Atul Kochhar, after filming he invited me to move to London and work in his Michelin star restaurant, I packed my bags left Northumberland and started 2 weeks later. This began my journey into a professional career in food following my passion.

The dish really did make me as it began life as a basic chicken curry that I created as a child in the home kitchen, we had eaten and enjoyed it as a family for years and became a classic in my house! I remember cooking this at age 12 in home economics, the aromas gathering everyone around to taste and the teacher asking for the recipe! When I had to think of my ‘signature dish’ for Yes Chef I knew I had to somehow incorporate an element of this recipe , I knew I had to really impress on the show and show my knowledge of flavours and skills in the kitchen. So I decided to elevate the dish sticking with my original coconut curry sauce recipe yet serving with crispy skin pan fried fish, spicy potato’s with peas garnished with crispy fried garam masala onion. I’ll always remember the moment Atul tastes this and said ‘You’ve nailed it’ at the point I really did believe this could be the dish that is going to make me.”

Sea bass and coconut curry with spicy crushed potatoes (serves 2)

For the spiced potatoes:

  • 500g new potatoes halved
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp gara masala
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • bunch of coriander finely chopped
  • Place the potatoes into a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for 10-15 minutes until tender, drain and set aside
  • Heat 1 tbs vegetable oil in a sauce pan and then the mustards seeds until the begin to pop, then add the gara masala and cook for a further 30 seconds
  • Add the cooked new potatoes and toss them around until they are well coated into the spices
  • Remove from the heat and lightly crush the potatoes with a fork
  • Add the lemon juice and coriander and mix well.

For the coconut curry:

  • 1tbs oil
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • small nob of ginger finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli deseed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 100ml fish stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbs tamarind paste
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 small handful fresh or frozen peas
  • Heat the oil in a sauce pan
  • Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for around 5 minutes until the onions are soft but not coloured
  • Add the turmeric and chilli and cook for 30 seconds
  • Pour in the stock, coconut milk and tamarind and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes
  • Add the peas for the last 5 minutes of cooking

For the seabass:

  • 2 fillets of seabass
  • Place the fish on a board and dry it with kitchen paper, make 3 slices across skin side of each fillet with a sharp knife and season with salt
  • Heat a 1 tbs of vegetable oil in a large non stick frying pan until smoking
  • Add the Seabass fillets skin side down and press down with a spatula for the first 30 seconds of cooking to stop the fish curling up
  • Fry for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crispy and then flip the fish
  • Add a nob of butter to the pan and then baste the fish with it – cook for 1 minute and then remove from the heat

To serve place a portion of spicy crushed potatoes onto a plate with a ladle full of curry sauce topped with the pan fried fish.

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