Sea bass with braised fennel and aubergine purée
- February 2005
- Serves 4
- 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.
- 45.8g (6.9g saturated)
- 7g (6.3g sugar)
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To serve, put the aubergine puree, fennel and courgettes into 3 separate pans and warm through on the hob until hot.
- 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.
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.
You can prepare the fish, make the aubergine puree, tomato confit, and fennel and courgette the day before; cover and chill.
Partner this dish with a fruity, sunny Chardonnay, perhaps from Sicily or southern France.
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