Fried Sea Bass

  • Time: 1 Hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

‘…The bed of samphire is worth trying too…but as Dad says, there’s lots of alternatives if you can’t find it.’

Pete
'Perhaps the most attractive looking dish of late! Perfect if you want to impress your guests to a restaurant quality meal without breaking the bank...'

What you need

1.4kg Whole sea bass filleted to make 2 large fillets. Retain the fish bones.

900g Waxy type (such a Charlotte) or large new potatoes

1 Large sweet Spanish onion or medium English

400g Samphire – or spinach or chard

50g Butter

Olive oil

Lemon

Salt and Pepper

2 tbs Crème fraiche or cream



Dad's Recipe Tales

Ollie’s favourite

I’ve been inspired by Nathan Outlaw to fry sea bass fillets. What I am after is the crispy skin. Nathan has the advantage of using a prime thick fillet.  But for those of us using smaller specimens, we must concentrate on the other main requirement; a dry skin before cooking. Thomas Keller describes scraping the skin with a knife to squeegee-out the moisture, Nathan says dry the fillets in the fridge for half an hour. I do both and it is a success. However, it should be served straight from the pan. I was forced to put a lid on my fish for five minutes and some of the crispness was lost.

I always like to fillet my own fish. Filleting at home provides fresh bones from which to make stock. This in turn, provides a base for a range of sauces for the filleted fish. However, tonight I use the stock to cook pommes Savoyard. I am always trying variations on the theme of gratin potatoes. My Savoyard-based gratin uses fish stock instead of chicken. I take the stock from the pan after 20 minutes whilst it is still light and fresh.

Home filleting is also a bonus for our cat, Ollie. There are always enough pickings after stock-making to fill his bowl.

I highly recommend this recipe – as does Ollie. It’s delicious.

 

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Using a cooks knife like a ‘squeegee’, scrape the skin side of the fillets, dry with kitchen towels and place in the fridge to dry for half an hour.
  2. Put the fish bones into a sauce pan. Add the wine, bay leaves and peppercorns and about 500ml of water – to just cover the bones and vegetables. Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Peel the potatoes and slice very thinly across the potato. Put them into a large bowl.
  4. Slice the onion very finely and add to the bowl. Melt 25g of butter and add to the potatoes. Mix the potatoes in the butter with just enough olive oil to lightly coat – a tablespoon or two. Season with a little salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes in a baking dish so that potatoes form a layer no more than 2.5 mm thick. After the stock has simmered for 20 minutes, pour stock onto the potatoes to a level just below the top of the potatoes. Cover loosely with tin foil and bake in an oven at 180C gas 4 for half an hour. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and browned – it takes about 15 minutes.
  5. Whilst the potatoes are cooking wash the samphire and boil or steam them for a couple of minutes until tender – they cook very quickly. Drain and add 25g of butter and toss.
  6. Fry the sea bass fillets skin-side down in a hot pan with a little groundnut oil. Press the fish down to keep the skin in contact with the pan. In a minute or two turn the heat to medium and let the fish cook for 4 to 5 more minutes or until the fish is cooked at least half way through the fillet (cooked fish turns opaque), then turn the fillets over for another minute until the fish is cooked through.
  7. Assemble the dish on individual plates or on a serving dish. Layer the potatoes then the samphire and then the fillets skin-side up.

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