It’s been a long bank holiday and I’m sure we’ve all over indulged at some point, whether it has been liquid based, a gluttonous mountain of food or an excessive waving of a tiny Union Jack it has no doubt taken its toll. Personally, I’ve attended two weddings this weekend and so when it came to Tuesday (god bless that extra day off) I was feeling the effect of too much red wine and Dad dancing. As mentioned in a previous post (Pilchards on toast) I tend to reach out for fish when tired and bloated and this weekend was no exception. Thanks to Jamie O for the recipe in his 30min meals book and thanks to the fish monger at Morrisons for the fresh sea bass, by far the best supermarket for fish (Waitrose and Asda failed me!)
Crispy sea bass with sweet potato mash
- Pancetta cut into lardons
- 2 fillets of sea bass – with the skin on
- Fennel seeds
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 fresh chilli
- 1 lime and 1 lemon
- Bunch of fresh coriander
- Tablespoon of mango chutney
- Soy sauce
Cut any gnarly bits off the sweet potato and stab all over to avoid a messy explosion. Put in a microwave safe bowl with two halves of lime, cover with two layers of cling film, making sure it is pulled tight and well sealed over the bowl to help speed up the cooking. Put the bowl in the microwave on full whack for 12 minutes. Add the pancetta to a frying pan with a drizzle of oil and cook on a medium heat. Grind a couple of teaspoons of fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar ready to season the fish. Once the pancetta is golden remove from the pan leaving the oil and set aside. Add the fish to the pan skin side down and press on the fillets with a spatula, sprinkle the flesh with the ground fennel, salt, pepper, finely grate over some lemon zest, then leave to cook until the skin is beautiful and golden. Chop the majority of the coriander roughly on the board, putting a small amount aside for dressing. Chop the chilli and add this and the mango chutney to the coriander with a glug of soy sauce and two glugs of extra virgin olive oil.
Keep an eye on the fish but don’t be afraid to cook the skin until really crispy, that crunchy texture is awesome! By now the potato should be done. Remove from the bowl and poke with a knife to make sure it is thoroughly cooked through. Remove the lime and squeeze over potato (careful it will be hot). Place on top of the coriander mix and mash, skin and all. It should be so soft you can do it easily with a knife. Make sure all the stuff on the board is well combined and taste, add some juice from half a lime and season well, spreading the mash across the centre of the board. By now the skin of the fish should be golden, remove from the heat and turn onto the flesh side to cook in the hot pan, add in the pancetta to warm through. Leave for a minute or so before removing from the pan and cut into big chunks. Randomly place the fish on the mash, sprinkling the pancetta over the top, followed by the rest of the coriander. Slice the lemon into quarters, drizzle a bit over the fish then dot around the fish and serve.
I love serving sharer food on a wooden board in the centre of the table and this dish is a perfect example… except I didn’t share any of it!
Congratulations to my cousin Jon and his endlessly smiling wife Rachel… and to my good friends Hels and Rob “emotional” Taylor, may your lives together be filled with laughter, dancing and plenty of good grub!