Seabass with Samphire & Lemongrass Butter

Here’s my twist on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution fish recipe. Using very similar skills to his classic pan-fried salmon and vegetable dish, I’m mixing it up a little and showing how you can create incredible variations in flavour.

If you’re buying whole fish and filleting it yourself, make sure you look out for bright, clear eyes.  The brighter the eyes, the fresher the fish. My children are fascinated by the whole process and we’ve luckily avoided any squeamishness by making it the norm whilst they’re still young.

Samphire is the asparagus of the sea. Delicate, tender, delicious.

I’ve chosen to accompany the fish with Swedish Hasselback potatoes. They’re really easy to make, and I love how this little twist transforms the humble potato to make it super-crispy and delightfully moreish.

The lemongrass butter gives everything a clean and zingy lift. You can make it ahead and store it in the freezer for future use; it’s stunning on charred corn on the cob.

Ingredients:

(serves 2)

  • 2 Seabass fillets
  • 150g Samphire
  • 100g Butter, softened
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk
  • 1cm Ginger
  • 1 Parsely sprig
  • 1 Tbsp Ponzu
  • 6 Small waxy potatoes (you may wish you’d cooked more though…)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

To make the butter, remove the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass and finely slice the core with the parsley leaves. Peel and grate the ginger into a bowl and mix it together thoroughly with the lemongrass, ponzu, butter, parsley and pepper. Tip the butter onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and form it into a log shape. Wrap it up like a Christmas cracker and pop it into the fridge so that it firms up.

The potatoes need to be evenly sliced without cutting all of the way through, so that they fan out when cooked. The more slices, the crispier the results. I use a wooden spoon as a jig to hold the potato in place and stop the blade. You’ll find it easiest with a very sharp, thin bladed knife.

wooden spoon jig

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a roasting tray with a knob of butter and then carefully add the potatoes, making sure that they’re nicely coated. Roast for about 50 minutes until beautifully golden and crispy.

Slash the skin of your fish. This will help the heat to penetrate the thickest part so that you have evenly cooked fish.

Seabass fillet

Heat a non-stick frying pan and add a little oil just to coat the surface. Season the fish before placing it skin-side down into the pan, pressing it down for the first few seconds to prevent it from curling up. Cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes without touching it or moving it around. Once the skin is golden and crispy, gently turn it over and cook for a further minute.

seabass

Steam the samphire for just 3 minutes and dress it with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Rock Samphire

Assemble your dish, topping with a slice of the lemongrass butter. Don’t place the butter directly onto the skin as I have done below if you want to keep it nice and crispy.

seabass with samphire and lemongrass butter

As always, recipes are merely guides; mix it up a little, adapt to your tastes and build on the foundations to satisfy your soul. The next time I cook this dish I’m going to focus on the Swedish angle and switch the lemongrass for some form of dill sauce.

 

 

Holiday Traditions

November challenge #3 for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolutionaries: ‘Holiday Traditions’.  I instantly imagined this as a bit of a montage as I’m completely smitten with all things Christmas.

So, holiday traditions and food for your family gatherings… Easy.  I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have a ‘Christmas Book’ and start planning a couple of months in advance (you have to if you’re going to make all the good stuff from scratch…).  Heavily booze-soaked Christmas cake and sloe gin are well worth the early effort.

Let’s start with…

  • Hampers.  Who doesn’t love a hamper? I’d use an interrobang at this point if only my keyboard supported it.  I’m not sure I’m even too fussed what it contains, a hamper is a both exciting and practical whatever the festivity.

xmas hamper

It’s even more special when someone makes up a hamper from scratch for you.

Next on the agenda;

  • Christmas Ales.  I love dark, heavy and flavoursome beers and it’s a real treat when all of the special festive brews hit the shelves.  Even better if it’s Belgian.  Here’s a favourite of mine.

Christmas Beer

  • Brussel sprouts (Brassica oleracea) on the stalk.  For some crazy reason, you only seem to be able to buy sprouts on their stalk at Christmas.  What’s with that?

Brussel sprouts (Brassica oleracea)

  • Christmas Butter.  Useful stuff for poultry of any kind.  You can make it well in advance and pop it in the freezer.  I usually use cranberries, orange and lemon zest, sage and all the generally festive ingredients.

festive butter

  • Santa Sustenance.  I suspect I might get a little dreary about this tradition one day, but hopefully the children will have sussed it all out well before then.  That said, the port is particularly welcomed by the time I get to finally indulge.  Do reindeer even eat nuts?

Treats for Santa

  • Hash.  Continuing the leftover theme, I honestly look forward to boxing day more than the main event.  This is probably the ultimate in comfort food eating.  We are all guilty of cooking far, far too much food at Christmas, but use fantastic ingredients.  The rule; there isn’t one.  The beauty is that you can use whatever you happen to have left (plus eggs and maybe some hot sauce depending on how late you partied…).

Christmas hash

  • Pie.  Again, this tends to be a boxing day dinner based on cooking too much the day before.  Never be without a block of puff pastry in the freezer during the festivities. Turkey, ham, mushrooms, crème fraîche and a couple of leeks.  Heaven. Obviously this also lends itself to pretty much anything you have to hand.

pie filling at christmas

Have fun, indulge, and above all, spoil the younglings.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Happy Holidays