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Pan Seared Phuket White Snapper

by Joe's Downstairs


Ingredients for the fish:

165 gm each 2 fresh white snapper fillets (skin-on); Salt to taste.


Season fish with salt on both sides to taste. Pan sear on high heat with 2 tbsps of grape seed oil, skin side down until just crispy. Move the pan with the fish to an oven preheated to 230°C. Cook until just cooked through approx. 6-7 minutes.

Ingredients for the whole grain mustard emulsion:

  • Juice of 1 fresh yellow lemon
  • Juice of ½ fresh orange
  • 1.5 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup exra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste


Place all ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil in a medium stainless steel mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking vigorously until the sauce forms an emulsion and develops the desired medium-thick consistency. If the sauce is still thin keep whisking in oil until it thickens. Taste and season with salt to taste.

Ingredients for the ragout:

  • 200 gm thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 strips of high quality bacon, chopped small
  • ½ stalk of leek thinly sliced
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic (peel-on)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Cook the chopped bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy and fat has rendered out. Reserve half the fat in the pan and place the cooked bacon on a paper towel. In the same pan with the bacon fat add the thinly sliced leek and crushed garlic cloves and cook until tender, then add the shiitake mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft. Remove the garlic cloves. You can at this stage add a touch of chicken stock or heavy cream to moisten the ragout. Add back the cooked bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for the light arugula pesto:

  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 175 gm wild arugula
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

Simmer the garlic over low heat in the milk until soft. Discard the milk. Poach the arugula in salted water until it changes to a vibrant shade of green (approx. 1 minute); instantly remove and shock in a bowl of iced water. When sufficiently chilled, press the water out of the arugula with your hands and discard the water. Place the poached arugula and the softened garlic in a blender. Blend the ingredients while slowly pouring in the olive oil through the top of the blender lid. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon and salt to taste.

To plate the dish
Spoon the mushroom ragout evenly onto two white plates. Rest the fish fillets on top of the ragout, crispy skin side up. Spoon the whole grain mustard emulsion, beginning close to the fish and draping outward. Drip the desired amount of the arugula pesto in a line away from the fish.

Sit, eat and enjoy!

About Executive Chef Aaron Hooper

Award winning Chef Aaron was honoured as the Top Chef in Thailand 2008-2010 by HAPA (Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards) and has been nominated for the same award every year since. He has been named in Thailand Tatler's Best Restaurants Guide in each and every year since arriving in Thailand in 2002, receiving scores of 10 and 9 for his innovative cuisine. Early in his culinary career, he worked in Switzerland under renowned French Chef Fabrice Stephany.

In 2000, he attended the esteemed New England Culinary Institute, earning an Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts and graduating at the top of his class. This positioned him for a job back on the west coast in one of the top five restaurants in San Francisco, the Wolfgang Puck- partnered restaurant, Hawthorne Lane. 10 years ago, in partnership with the late-great Tom McNamara, he opened the iconic Joe's Downstairs and the rest is history. Garnering impressive reviews from publications such as The Bangkok Post, Elle, Sawasdee, Big Chili, BK magazine, The New York Times, Prestige Magazine and Gourmet to name just a few. Catch him if you can nightly in the restaurant at Joe's Downstairs.

  • Chef Aaron Hooper

Joe's Downstairs