Fennel, lemon and dill baked sea bass
- December 2006
- Olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
- 6 small whole sea bass, each about 300g once gutted, cleaned and head and tail removed, or 3 larger ones, each about 450-500g once prepared as above (ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
- 2 fennel bulbs, halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- 25g bunch of fresh dill
- 25g bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 6 bay leaves
- 300ml white wine
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Smear the base of 1-2 large roasting tin/s with a little olive oil. Season the inside of each sea bass, then place them in the roasting tin/s.
- Fill the cavity of each fish with the fennel and lemon slices, then tuck in the dill, parsley, thyme and bay. Scatter over any remaining fennel, lemon and herbs, then pour over the wine. Drizzle each fish with a little olive oil and season well.
- Cover the whole tin/s tightly with foil and bake for 25-35 minutes, basting the fish with the pan juices halfway, depending on the size of the fish – you want the fish to feel firm to the touch, with the meat opaque and moist. Carefully transfer the fish to a board and cover loosely with foil to keep hot.
- Make a quick sauce from the pan juices. Place the tin over the hob (if using 2 tins, tip the juices into 1 tin) and boil for a few minutes, until the juices are reduced slightly and well-flavoured. Strain into a jug.
- Transfer the fish to warmed serving plates, easing out the fennel, lemon and herbs slightly so they fall on the plate. (If you’ve cooked 3 large fish, you need to cut each fish into 2 fillets, which takes no time. Use a sharp knife to cut down the back bone, then lift away the fillet and transfer to a plate, skin-side up. Discard the backbone, then transfer the other fillet to a second serving plate. Divide the fennel, lemon and herbs between them. Repeat with the remaining fish.)
- To serve, pour a little of the sauce over each sea bass, then drizzle with some extra oil. Serve with the New potatoes sautéed with herbs (see recipe).
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