Bass with Garlic Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Far Flung Floyd

Far Flung Floyd

By Keith Floyd

Published 1994

  • About

A hotel in Bangkok runs a Thai cookery course for visitors and locals alike. It doesn’t go to great lengths but it provides a useful insight into Thai cooking. The presentation was made by a rather zappy young man who looked like a hair salon proprietor, behaved like a DJ and spoke with a dead cool American accent.

I cooked him this dish, which my chum Chom had taught me, by way of a ‘thank you for letting us mess up your lecture this morning’.


  • 1 whole bass, grouper or mullet (at least 450 g [1lb]), scaled, gutted and cleaned
  • 50 g (2oz) plain flour
  • 1 litre ( pints) vegetable oil
  • 1 whole head garlic (a little less if you prefer), chopped
  • 1 generous tablespoon chopped spring onion
  • 2 tablespoons seeded and chopped mixed red and green chilli peppers
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 90 ml (3fl oz) fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • White pepper


Wash and dry the fish. With a sharp knife make half a dozen slashes over the skin of the fish on each side. Dredge with flour on both sides for a non-stick fish with crispy skin.

Find a deepish pan big enough to hold the whole fish and the oil. Heat the oil, bar about 3 tablespoons, and cook the fish for around 5 minutes. Turn it with care and fry for another 5 minutes. The flesh should be firm but still moist and tender. Remove the fish – again with care, so it doesn’t break – drain and keep warm on a large serving dish.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a medium pan. Stir in the garlic, spring onion, chillies and coriander and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the sugar, lime and lemon juices, fish sauce and basil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring. Season with pepper. Pour over the fish and the dish is ready to serve.