Springtime fricassee with pan fried sea bream

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll notice by now that, not only do I enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients as far as possible, I also have a penchant for pan fried sea bream. I love how delicate it is whilst also being able to stand up to a range of flavours. If you can’t find sea bream then sea bass will also work well. When fish is fresh you really don’t need to do much to it to bring out the best in it so keep it simple. I have chosen to pair the fish with spring vegetable fricassee; asparagus, peas and broad beans are in plentiful supply at the moment so take advantage of them whilst they are at their best. I served the fish and fricassee with roasted garlic mashed potato to bring the dish together and indulge in my other love in life- garlic!

Ingredients- serves 4
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
4 sea bream fillets- pin boned and skin left on
1 shallot- finely chopped
200g asparagus
200g shelled broad beans
200g podded peas
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper to season

For the mashed potatoes
1 bulb of garlic
Olive oil
500g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and quartered
100g butter

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take the bulb of garlic for the mash and remove some of the outer papery layers. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut the bulb across the top to expose a little of the cloves. Place the garlic on a sheet of foil, drizzle with some olive oil and gather the side of the foil to make a parcel; roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the garlic has softened. When tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle the garlic. Squeeze all the garlic from the bulb and use the back of a fork to lightly mash it down; set aside.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a little salt. Cook the potatoes until tender; drain well and set aside before mashing with the butter added. Pop in most of the roasted garlic and combine well. Keep the mash warm.

3. Next up you need to make the fricassee and this could not be more straightforward. Bring a medium pan of water to a vigorous simmer but just below a boil. Take the asparagus and quarter each spear before then chopping each quarter to give thick sticks of asparagus. Add to the water and blanch for 1 minute before removing with a slotted spoon and refreshing in a bowl of ice cold water. Take the shelled broad beans and do the same for 3 minutes and then do the peas for 2 minutes.

4. In a medium pan add a glug of oil and soften the shallot. Pop in the remaining roasted garlic. Add the asparagus, broad beans and peas and pour over the double cream. Simmer gently for a few minutes until the vegetables are nice and tender. Taste and season well.

5. As the fricassee is finishing off get going with the fish. Heat a non- stick frying pan over a medium- high heat and add a good knob of butter and a glug of oil. Lightly season the skin of the fish and place skin side down into the hot pan; when the butter and oil starts to bubble then its ready to use. Fry the fish for around 4-5 minutes before gently flipping it over and cooking for a further minute or two. Serve the mash and fricassee and mash in deep bowls and top with the golden pan fried bream; serve immediately.

Springtime vegetable fricassee with pan fried sea bream- a celebration of seasonal ingredients!

 

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Sea bream with fennel, onion and pancetta

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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.

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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!

 

 

Pan fried sea bream with bacon and samphire crushed new potatoes

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.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 fillets of sea bream- skin on
Salt and pepper to season
60g butter
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!

 

 

Sea bream with griddled baby leeks and beurre noisette

Sweet, delicate sea bream paired with fresh baby leeks is a perfect match for these seasonal delights. Sea bream can often be overlooked so give it a chance and give this speedy recipe a go.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 sea bream fillets- skin on
100g butter
1 tbsp non-pareille capers
Lemon
1/2 tbsp flat leaf parsley- chopped
Small pack of baby leeks- washed

1. Start off by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan, boiling a medium pan of water and heating a griddle to a medium/ high heat. Take a large non- stick frying pan which can fit both bream fillets easily- don’t crowd them! Heat half of the butter over a medium/ high heat and when melted, add the fillets skin side down and cook for 2 minutes. I season the skin before adding to the pan and aim to get the skin beautifully crisp and golden. The butter will foam which makes it nice and easy to then baste the fillets. When the fillets are ready, pop in the remaining butter, capers and a good squeeze of lemon juice before basting once more and putting in the oven for an additional 2 minutes. When the fish is ready it will look translucent so don’t overdo it. There’s nothing worse!

2. For the baby leeks all you need to do is make sure they are well washed to remove any grit that may be lurking and then simmering in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they become tender. Remove the leeks carefully and finish off in the griddle pan until slightly charred.

3. When everything is ready to go, arrange the leeks on the plate and lay the bream on top. Add the parsley to the butter sauce before pouring over the fish and leeks and you are good to go! I served this with steamed new potatoes which are also bang in season.

Sea bream with baby leeks- a celebration of spring ingredients!

Fragrant spice crusted sea bream

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.

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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!