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Baked sea bass with lemon & herbs (with Tarator sauce)

Baked sea bass with lemon & herbs (with Tarator sauce)

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • 40-50 mins for the fish, 10-15 mins for the sauce
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

This delicious fish dish is the perfect alternative to a Sunday roast

Nutrition: per serving (for the fish only)
low insalt0.6g


  • 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.


  • 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.


The fish can be prepared up to the baking stage up to 8 hours ahead. Keep it loosely wrapped in cling film in the fridge.


The sauce can be made up to 12 hours ahead. If you have to refrigerate it, bring the sauce to room temperature and whisk in more water or stock before serving as it will have thickened.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2002

Goes well with


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A star rating of 3 out of 5.3 ratings

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