sea bass with rocket sauce

finally...the laptop is working again. well, sort of: the battery is dead so it has to stay plugged in, which defeats the point of having a laptop in the first place. but i can get on the internet and that's all i need. obviously, the system restore now means that we have 4 copies of each itunes song we own. thanks for that, apple - you do make a sexy product but itunes truly is a piece of rubbish.

so, it's nice to be back. though, i'd be lying if i said i didn't enjoy being away from the blog for a while. it's a relief not having to explain to people why there are veal shanks in the work fridge or why my browsing history consists almost exclusively of recipe websites.

even better, it was very nice having food cooked for me, both in great restaurants and at a friend's house. more of which in another post. 

this sea bass recipe was the first thing i cooked for a few days. it was a perfect sunny bank holiday dinner. if you know anything about public holidays in the UK, you will be aware of the First Law of Bank Holiday which states that it will piss it down all day. 

so when we woke up in brighton and it was raining, it didn't exactly come as a surprise. but - to everyone's amazement - it cleared up. we went for a long walk later that morning and the sun was blazing. drove back all the way to london with the roof down and some elderflowers we picked wrapped in a cardigan tucked behind the driver's seat.

we stopped off to get some food and agreed it would have to be something summery (i vetoed the duck idea; you can't eat duck in 26 degrees). so we bought the fish and loads of veg.

it was only when we got back that i found this recipe in a book by gennaro contaldo. i did change a few things, mainly because we wanted to keep our fish whole and on the bone, rather than fillet it. you can, of course, use fillets or, for that matter, any other fish. also, i didn't have enough rocket so i used one of those supermarket bags of mixed rocket salad and a bit of spinach to make up 200g. i think you can experiment here - you just need green leafy things. don't be afraid of cooking salad leaves, as many people seem to be. 

the sauce was lovely - a bit like creamed spinach but greener and fresher, with a slight peppery kick from the rocket. it makes a nice change from eating a salad on the side, and it's great with the crispy bass skin and the subtly flavoured white flesh.

PS if you hate anchovies, make the sauce anyway. i promise you won't be able to taste them.

for two

2 whole seabass
1tbs olive oil
1tbs butter
salt and pepper

for the sauce:
1 tbs olive oil
15g butter
3 anchovy fillets
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium courgette, finely chopped
300ml vegetable stock
200g rocket, roughly chopped, plus some to serve

for the sauce, heat the oil and the butter in a pan and add the anchovy fillets. cook on gentle heat until the anchovies have almost dissolved in the fat. add the shallots and the courgette and cook until they have softened a little (at least 5 minutes, i would say). add the stock, bring to boil and simmer for one minute. add the rocket, simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. allow to cool slightly and whizz in a blender until smooth. return to the pan and simmer until almost all the water has evaporated and you end up with a creamy sauce.

for the fish, melt the oil and the butter in a pan and, when hot, fry the whole fish for a few minutes on each size. can't really be more precise than that as it all depends on the size of your fish. just don't overcook it.


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