Herb crusted what? I’ll be first to agree that during my childhood days in the Caribbean, you’d never come across such a recipe. But the new generation of chefs and home cooks are experimenting with great success. We had fish four ways growing up.. fried, curry, stew and in fish broth (pronounced broff). Mom was a traditionalist and her dishes reflected the mentoring she got from her mother and aunts before her.
Basa (Pangasius bocourt, similar to catfish) is one of the most inexpensive fish you can get in our city at the various Asian markets and the good part is .. they are fillets. So you don’t have to worry about bones especially if you want to get your children eating fish.
2 Basa Fillets
2 slices of bread (white bread with crust removed)
1 tablespoon parsley
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme (fresh)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoon mayo
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch fresh ground black pepper
* You’ll also need about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remember to wear gloves when handling scotch bonnet peppers (wash your hands with soap immediately after) and don’t use any of the seeds.
Remove the crust off the bread (and break into smaller pieces) , give the scotch bonnet, scallion and parsley a rough chop and remove the tiny leaves off the thyme stem. Add it all to a food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly consistency. Add in the salt, melted butter and grate in some lemon zest. Pulse a couple times and get ready to dress the fish.
Wash and pat the basa fillets dry with paper towels, then drizzle on some olive oil on a parchment lined baking tray and place the filets on it (no oil on the fish itself). The oil will add subtle flavor and prevent the fillets from sticking as it cooks in the oven. Add a bit more oil if using tin foil instead of parchment paper. Preheat your oven at 375 F.
As the oven comes to temperature lets give the fish some more flavor and help keep it moist when it’s done doing it’s thing in the oven. In a small bowl mix all the ingredients mentioned for the dressing, then lather it onto both pieces of fish.
I simply used the back of a spoon to paste this creamy sauce over the Basa fillets. Now it’s time to get crusty! Pour half of the herb crust we made over each fish and gently press down on it so it holds on the creamy dressing.
In the 375 F oven, middle rack for about 15-20 minutes.. depending on how thick your fillets are and how well done you like your fish.
Not you conventional Caribbean fish recipe, but I assure you it’ will be a ‘go-to’ recipe the very first time you give it a try. The herb crust will certainly stand out and the fish itself will be tender and moist from that lovely dressing we started off with.