Basa grilled two ways… In basil pesto, In Mediterranean spices

An extract of this article appeared on The Chopping Board, my blog in The Times of India. The following is the link to my bacon Hakka noodles recipe on

The Vietnamese Basa fish has flooded the markets of Mumbai.

The high price of local seafood favourites...pomfret, surmai and rawas...coupled with the low supply of the same in the monsoons has helped basa make great inroads into Mumbai the market. Basa which sometimes retails at around Rs 350 (Jude’s in Bandra’ Pali Naka) a kilo works out to be one of the cheaper fishes around. What you get when you buy basa are boneless fillets which works for restaurateurs. So from high end Continental places to local Malvani restaurants, the Vietnamese basa features everywhere.

It would be interesting to see if this move towards basa brings down the prices of the locally available fish.

We’ve started using a fair bit of basa at home these days. Our preferred form is to grill it. This recipe is based on the popular Italian cooking paste of pesto, uses Vietnamese basa bought from a market in Mumbai’s Bandra to cook up a quick and simple dinner. The thing to keep in mind is that basa is quite a delicate fish and that one should not over-cook or over-spice it. There is a certain creamy fattiness to the meat which one should try to bring out while cooking basa.

Recipe 1: Basa in a pesto mix


Ingredients (for 2):

  • Pesto mix: 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, 50 g of walnuts as we head them at home (pine nuts is the traditional option) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. A traditional pesto would have parmesan. I used the salty Cornish cheddar which was at home and to be honest, just grated some on the fish instead of mixing it in the pesto as I wanted to cut down on the amount of cheese use. For a more traditional version add 50 g of parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or table salt
  • 750 g of basa fillets


  • Grind together the pesto mix ingredients in a food processor
  • Apply the pesto mix on both sides of the basa. Sprinkle sea salt on both sides of the fish and let it marinate for half an hour on a baking tray
  • Grate some cheese on top of the fillet



  • Preheat the oven for 10 min on 200 C
  • Put the tray into the oven. Let it grill for 15 min at 200 C. Don’t cover the fish while grilling. The end result sought should have a slight crunch on the skin and the fish should be succulent and juicy below the skin

You can serve this with bread or a simple spaghetti Aglio Olio


Recipe 2: Basa grilled in Mediterranean spices (for 2)


  • 750 g of basa,
  • 1 teaspoon of seasalt
  • 1 teaspoon each of sumac & zatar.
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


  • Smear the salt, zatar and sumac on the basa
  • Add the lime juice all over the basa and push in the spices with a spoon or pat them in with your fingers
  • Smear with the olive oil on both sides
  • Put some herbs on the basa. I used some basil which was at home
  • Let the basa marinate for at least half an hour



  • Preheat the oven for 10 min at 200 C
  • Put the tray of marinated basa into the oven
  • 15 min at 200 C

I served this with my Mediterranean aubergine salad recipe. This time I roasted the aubergines instead of frying them. Covered them with olive oil and salt and put it in the oven for 35 at 200 C along with some chopped tomatoes

Here’s what I did post that.:

Layer the aubergines and tomato on a dish. Mixed hung curd (made it by straining the water out from packaged curd using a strainer over 6 hours) with sumac and coriander leaves. Added the same over the aubergine mix. Put it in the fridge and served after half an hour. Added some extra virgin olive oil to the mix while serving

IMG_2210 - Copy