Sea bass with braised fennel and aubergine purée

Sea bass with braised fennel and aubergine purée
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Takes 2½ hours to make

This impressive restaurant-style recipe of sea bass, creamy aubergine purée and slow-cooked fennel and was created by chef, Angela Hartnett.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
696kcals
Fat
45.8g (6.9g saturated)
Protein
63.9g
Carbohydrates
7g (6.3g sugar)
Salt
0.8g
Calories
696kcals
Fat
45.8g (6.9g saturated)
Protein
63.9g
Carbohydrates
7g (6.3g sugar)
Salt
0.8g

Ingredients

  • 1 whole sea bass weighing about 1.3kg, gutted
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • Olive oil, for sautéeing
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 small to medium-sized fennel bulbs
  • 150ml fresh chicken stock
  • 200g pack baby courgettes

For the tomato confit and sauce

  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 11 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 8 pitted black olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Ask your fishmonger to gut and fillet the fish. Score the skin at 5mm intervals,cutting through the skin just into the flesh. Halve each fillet to give 4 portions. Chill until ready to cook. This can be done a day ahead.
  2. To make the aubergine puree, top and tail the aubergines, then peel and discard the skin. Roughly dice the flesh. Pour olive oil into a medium-sized saucepan – enough to cover the base. Add 1 thyme sprig, 1 bay leaf and 1 rosemary sprig. Add the aubergine, toss well and cover. Cook over a low heat for 25-30 minutes until very soft. Remove the herbs and blitz the aubergine in a food processor. Season and set aside. You can also make this a day before; cover and chill.
  3. To make the tomato confit, bring a pan of water to a simmer, and put some ice and cold water into a bowl and set aside. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, cut the ‘eyes’ out of each tomato, then cut a cross in the opposie end. Plunge in the simmering water for about 30 seconds-1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the iced water to stop further cooking. Use a small knife to peel the skin. Halve each tomato, scoop out and discard the seeds, and dice the flesh. Spread the diced tomato on a large baking tray, and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt and chopped leaves of 1 thyme sprig. Put in a low oven (about 110c/fan 90c/gas 1/4 for about 45 minutes until the tomatoes redden and shrivel slightly. You can also do this a day ahead and set aside.
  4. To cook the fennel and courgette, trim the fennel bubs, top and bottom, then cut off the cheeks on each side – use the trimmings for the stock. Halve each bulb through the centre so you have 4 thick slices. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the fennel, 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme spring, and saute for a few minutes, turning once, until it begins to colour. Add the stock, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Thickly slice the courgettes and fry in a little oil with the remaining herbs for 4-5 minutes, until golden and just tender. You can also do this the day before; cover and chill overnight.
  5. To make the sauce about 25 minutes before serving, make a vinaigrette by whisking 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the white wine vinegar. Put the remaining oil and the vinaigrette into a small pan and heat gently. Stir in the confit, its oil and the olives and parsley. Serve the sauce just warm.
  6. To cook the fish pour olive oil into a large pan – just enough to cover the base – and heat very well. Add the fish, skin side down, and shake the pan to stop them sticking. Cook for 4-6 minutes – depending on the fillets’ thickness – until the skins are crisp and golden. Turn, and spoon oil over the fillets repeatedly, until just cooked through.
  7. To serve, put the aubergine puree, fennel and courgettes into 3 separate pans and warm through on the hob until hot.
  8. Put a piece of fennel in the centre of each warm plate. Surround with some courgette and puree, then top the fennel with the fish, skin side up.

delicious. tips

  1. Add a dash of sherry vinegar for a slightly sharper flavour, and some chopped garlic, if you like.

    To test the fish, insert a dessertspoon handel into one of the scored lines. If there’s resistance, cook for a few more minutes.

  2. You can prepare the fish, make the aubergine puree, tomato confit, and fennel and courgette the day before; cover and chill.

  3. Partner this dish with a fruity, sunny Chardonnay, perhaps from Sicily or southern France.

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