Baked sea bass with lemon & herbs (with Tarator sauce)
- Preparation and cooking time
- Total time
- 40-50 mins for the fish, 10-15 mins for the sauce
- Serves 4
- 1 whole sea bass , about 1.8kg/4lb, gutted and scaled
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large lemons , thinly sliced (peel and all)
- 3 garlic cloves , crushed flat
- a handful of fresh soft herbs, eg parsley , fennel, dill, tarragon, basil (either one single herb or a mixture)
For the tarator sauce
- 50g blanched almond
- 50g pine nut
- 2 large, thin slices of white bread , crusts removed
- 2 garlic cloves , crushed and roughly chopped
- juice of ½ lemon , plus a squeeze
- 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
- about 2 tbsp or so fish stock or cold water
- STEP 1
Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8/fan210C. Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, inside and out. Rub the skin with oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay three-quarters of the lemon slices on a heavy baking sheet and place the fish on top (see tip). Stuff the belly with the remaining lemon, the garlic and plenty of herbs, then season.
- STEP 2
Bake the fish for 30 minutes or until the flesh is opaque at its thickest part – slide a knife into the backbone area to heck.
- STEP 3
To serve, first gently peel the skin back, then lift off a chunk of the back fillet and a chunk of the belly to make one serving: each side should yield 2 portions. Use any lemon slices that are nicely brown, rather than jet-black, as a garnish.
FOR THE TARATOR SAUCE
- STEP 4
Put the nuts in a food processor and whizz to a fine powder.Wet the bread, then squeeze out all the moisture. Crumble it into the nuts, add the garlic and whizz to combine thoroughly.
- STEP 5
Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Start pouring the olive oil in through the feeder tube, in a steady, fine trickle. Once the oil is incorporated, the sauce will be very smooth but rather solid, so add enough water (or stock) to let the sauce down to a thick, creamy consistency.
- STEP 6
Finally, taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning and add a little more lemon juice if necessary.