If you have not had sardines before then these Sicilian style stuffed sardines are the perfect introduction. They are straightforward to make and quick to cook so they can be made for a quick lunch or light dinner. Dishes such as this are usually served at times of feasting such as Easter but they are perfect for spring and summer at any time.
Ingredients- Serves 2-3
500g butterflied sardines with bones removed
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Juice of half a small orange
Handful of raisins
Handful of pinenuts
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Choose an ovenproof ceramic baking dish that it large enough to for the sardines to fit and to be nice and snug once rolled. Start by preparing the breadcrumbs filling. Soak the raisins in warm water for 5 minutes until they have swollen and start to soften, roughly chop and place in a bowl. Toast the breadcrumbs in a small dry pan until golden, remove from the heat and add to the raisins. Add the pine nuts, squeeze of the orange juice and roughly chopped parsley. Season to taste.
2. Take one sardine at a time, fill with a small amount of the stuffing mixture and roll lengthways. Once rolled, place in a lightly oiled baking dish and then repeat until all the sardines have been used. If you have any leftover stuffing once you have rolled all the fish then sprinkle over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 20- 25 minutes until golden and the fish is cooked through. Serve with a simple salad or bread if you like.
Sicilian stuffed sardines- a taste of the Med even if we are all at home during lockdown!
Sea bream is one of my favourite fish so there’s nothing better than pairing with other fresh ingredients to bring out the flavour of it. This recipe does not require a huge amount of ingredients so it is simple to achieve when you want something delicious but without the faff! For ease I have cooked the dish in the oven to make sure the fennel is well roasted which brings out the sweetness however it could also be made on the hob top if you prefer.
Ingredients- serves 2
2 sea bream fillets
Glug of oil
200g new potatoes- thinly sliced
1 white onion- finely sliced
1 fennel bulb- finely sliced
3 slices of pancetta
Juice of half a lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take an ovenproof wide bottomed pan and heat the oil in the pan in the oven. Season the potato slices add to the pan and roast in the oven until turning golden and tender; this may take a little while so take your time and check them from time to time. Reserve the fennel tops and set aside.
2. Add in the onion and fennel slices continue to cook until both are softened. Roughly chop the pancetta and add to the pan; cooking until crisp. Take a frying pan, add another small amount of oil and heat to medium- high; season the sea bream fillets and fry skin side down for a couple of minutes until the skin is crisp. Remove from the pan and place on top of the potato, onion and fennel. Cook for around 10 minutes until cooked through. Take the reserved fennel tops and scatter. Squeeze the lemon juice over before serving.
Sea bream with fennel, onion and pancetta- make the most of fresh ingredients with this simple supper!
When the sun comes out, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy a colourful meal before the clouds threaten again. In the UK we are about to see the end of this year’s asparagus season (boo!) so this is a perfect way of enjoying it before it goes. Orzo is rice grain shaped pasta which is great for cooking in risotto style as it is here as well as using for pasta bakes and salads. Unlike classic risotto, the stock can be added all in one go rather than one ladleful at a time. Next time you cook this try playing around with combinations such as cherry tomato, chorizo and red pepper which are equally as delicious.
Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
50ml white wine
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
100g asparagus- chopped
300ml vegetable stock
Slices of pancetta
2 cod loins
1/2 tsp paprika
1. Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan that is large enough to hold the orzo. Gently cook the onion and garlic together until softening but not so they are turning golden. Pour in the white wine and simmer until it is reduced by half.
2. Stir in the orzo until it is well coated in the onion mixture. Pop the halved tomatoes and chopped asparagus into the pan. Add the stock little by little until the orzo starts to turn tender and the tomatoes will break down to form a light sauce. If you are using fine asparagus then you may like to add this in slightly later in the cooking of the orzo. You are aiming for the asparagus to retain a little crunch to add texture.
3. Meanwhile, you can prepare the cod. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Depending on how big the cod loins are and the size of the pancetta slices, lay -pancetta slices on a chopping board so they slightly overlap and are the length of the cod loin. Season the cod well with salt, pepper and paprika and wrap one of the cod pieces in it; repeat for the other loin. Take a small frying pan and add a small splash of oil, heating it to medium. Place the wrapped loins seal side down into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. If the pan you are using is ovenproof then pop the cod straight into the oven for around 10-12 minutes until the cod is cooked. If it is not ovenproof then use a baking sheet to cook the cod on instead. When the pancetta is cooked and crisped it is ready to serve on top of the orzo. Serve immediately.
Pancetta wrapped cod loin with tomato and asparagus orzo- a colourful dish to cheer up anyone’s day!
Sea bass is a wonderful, readily available fish that deserves a place on all good dinner tables across the land. Cooking fish can be a daunting prospect if it is not something that you are used to and a tray bake is a brilliant introduction to it so read on and give it a try. I have taken inspiration from the Med and used sweet cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and peppers to ramp up the flavours. The ingredients are so fabulous that very little needs doing to them. I used Jersey Royal potatoes which are currently in season in the UK but new potatoes work well if you cannot find these.
Ingredients- serves 2
2 boneless sea bass fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil
200g Jersey Royal potatoes or new potatoes
1 red onion- cut into small wedges
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
50g pitted black olives- halved
1 tbsp capers
2 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
Squeeze of lemon juice
Torn basil leaves to finish
1. Start by making sure that the sea bass fillets are boneless as nobody likes to find one of those. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and think about what you are going to bake this in; a normal baking tray or roasting tray is perfect but I used a cast iron roasting pan. As the oven is heating, pop your tray of choice in there to heat too with a glug of vegetable oil.
2. Meanwhile slice the potatoes so they are 5mm thick. Remove the heated tray from the oven and place the potato slices in. Leave to bake for 20 minutes or until starting to turn golden and soften.
3. Remove the tray and add in the onion wedges, halved tomatoes, olives, capers and peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes. When the potatoes look like they are nearly ready and the onion is nicely softened pop on the sea bass fillets to finish off for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the fillet. Use your judgement with your oven, if you think the fish skin won’t quite crisp up to how you like it then you can always cheat a bit and pan fry the fillet skin side down for a couple of minutes before finishing in the oven for another 2-3 minutes. When the sea bass is ready the fish will be translucent- do not overcook. Finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice to bring all the flavours together and a few torn basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Mediterranean inspired sea bass tray bake- a colourful addition to your culinary repertoire and a summertime winner!
I absolutely adore sea bream- firm yet tender, meaty yet delicate, it ticks all the boxes for flavour in my book. Fish is almost always best treated simply to let it shine without being taken over by the accompanying ingredients. I have teamed the bream with marsh samphire, which is now readily available. Samphire needs little done with it to add a wonderful saltiness; it can be steamed, roasted or pan fried to perfection.
‘Bacon as well as samphire?!’ I hear you cry! ‘Absolutely’ says I! Don’t think that the bacon and samphire will create a thirst inducing meal, it simply isn’t so. I used a lightly smoked back bacon which is tossed in with the potatoes at the last minute. If you like, consider replacing the bacon with other sea vegetables. Another word: Jersey Royal potatoes are currently in season in the UK and are simply wonderful so do use them whilst you get the opportunity.
Ingredients- serves 2
2 fillets of sea bream- skin on
Salt and pepper to season
200g jersey royal potatoes
100g samphire- rinsed well
2 rashers of smoked back bacon- roughly cut
1. Before you get cracking on the fish itself, boil a kettle of water and cook the potatoes. Most average sized new potatoes take around 15-20 minutes but this will also depend on the size. Test if they are cooked with a knife, drain well and set aside.
2. Meanwhile take two pans; one that is suitable for the fish so this needs to be a non- stick frying pan ideally and one that can be used for frying the bacon. Sea bream fillets will take around 5-6 minutes so I simply pan fry with 20g of butter (and a glug of oil if you like as well). Season the skin side of the fish with salt and pepper before frying skin side down for 3 minutes until golden. Flip the fish onto the other side and season before cooking for a further 2-3 minutes until cooked through. I used a spoon to baste the fish with the melted butter in the pan throughout the cooking.
3. At the same time this is all going on, heat a knob of butter in the second pan. Pop in the bacon pieces and samphire. Take the drained potatoes and lightly crush them with a masher or spoon before adding to the pan. Keep as much butter as you want (or need) to work its way through the potatoes. Now is not the time to worry about the diet! That can wait! When the bacon is crisped, the samphire soft and the potatoes warm, divide between two plates. Carefully remove the bream from the pan and place on top of the bed of potatoes. Serve immediately.
Pan fried sea bream with bacon and samphire crushed potatoes- savour every bite of this wonderfully simple yet elegant dinner!
Fish pie is a classic recipe that is a firm favourite throughout the land. Each family’s repertoire needs one so look no further! I have used a combination of bite size chunks of salmon, smoked haddock and white fish with a few king prawns thrown in for good measure but play around to find a combination that suits you.
Ingredients- serves 4
600g potatoes- peeled and cut into equal chunks
2 tbsp creme fraiche
50g unsalted butter
4 eggs- hard boiled, peeled and quartered (optional)
150g each of smoked haddock, salmon and cod- cut into bite size chunks 200g peeled and deveined king prawns
1 leek- sliced
150ml fish stock
1 tbsp plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
600ml milk- skimmed or whole
Handful of flatleaf parsley- chopped
1. Start off by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180fan ready for later. If you like hard boiled eggs in your fish pie and haven’t yet cooked them then now is the time so they can be cooling whilst you get on with the other steps.
2. Take a large pan and boil the potato chunks until tender. Drain well and mash until smooth. Add the butter, creme fraiche and seasoning and set aside.
3. The fish pie needs to be cooked in an ovenproof dish. Place the fish chunks and prawns in the bottom of the dish ready for it to receive its saucy coating later. For the sauce, start by taking a smaller pan and cooking the leek and fish stock together for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Next up goes the flour, stir well to combine and make sure lumps don’t form. If any do, take the pan off the heat and stir vigorously. Cook the mixture with the newly added flour for a further minute before adding the mustard for an additional minute.
4. Gradually add the milk to the pan and bring up to the boil. Stir continuously until the sauce has thickened before adding the parsley and pouring over the fish. Arrange the egg quarters if you’re using them. Allow the fish to cool for 20 minutes before covering with the mashed potato. You can either use a piping bag (just make sure the mash is the right consistency) or fork it on. If you like, you can pop a little cheese over the top. Cook in the oven for 30- 40 minutes until the mash is golden.
Serve with mixed greens, peas or green beans for a hearty winter meal or lighten it up with a side salad.
Classic fish pie- a touch of luxury for everyone’s dining table!
Sea bream has to be one of my favourite white fish; it’s delicate yet meaty and can stand up to bold flavours if you strike the right balance. In this recipe I have used Indian spices as a crust and then stuffed the bream with lemon slices and kaffir lime leaves to freshen it up even more.
If you’re nervous about cooking a whole fish then don’t be- it really couldn’t be simpler. Ask your fishmonger to prepare the fish so it’s ready to go if you don’t fancy doing it yourself! One fish should serve one person so it is really simple to double this recipe if needed.
Ingredients- serves 2
2 whole sea bream- gutted, scales removed and ready for stuffing
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 dried red chilli- snipped
3 garlic cloves- crushed
3cm piece of fresh ginger- grated
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 lemon- sliced
Handful of kaffir lime leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan ready for the fish. To make the spice paste roast the cumin, coriander seeds and peppercorns for a few minutes until they are lightly toasted and release their flavours. Pop into a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar along with the chilli, garlic, ginger and salt and grind to a coarse paste before mixing in the oil.
2. Get the fish ready by stuffing them with the slices of lemon and lime leaves. Grab your spice paste and rub the fish all over with it. Pop the fish on a lightly oiled baking tray so it doesn’t stick and cook in the oven for around 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish). If the spice crust starts getting a bit too much colour on it then cover the fish with a piece of foil. When the fish is ready the juices should run clear and the flesh should look white and translucent. Serve with rice or salad for a lighter meal.
Spice crusted sea bream- a celebration of this stunning fish!