It is common to find both Sea Bream and Sea Bass on the fish counter of large supermarkets. Though they are generally farmed, they are a good buy, often coming in at around £3 each. Taste pretty good too.
Sea Bream is a favourite of mine. It has a light, open flesh, but a taste reminiscent of more classy fish such as halibut. A small fish, around the size of a bass, it is easy to fillet with not many bones to pick out. The flavour is not very strong, but has a sweet, pleasing taste that works well with herbs and garlic, so that is what I went for! I served the fish with a light pasta tossed with a little butter, pecorino, pancetta and plenty of black pepper and some lightly steamed cabbage.
So, onto the recipe.
- 1 Sea Bream - Per Person
- 8 cloves of garlic - skin on
- 1 small red onions - More if you have more people
- 1 sprig Rosemary - Easy to grow!
- 10 leaves Sage - Purple is nice
- 1 teaspoon coarse Sea Salt
- 3 slices of good Pancetta - Thin, probably
- Large shaped Pasta - Pick your own shape!
- 3 tablespoons of Pecorino - Use grana padano if you have to
- 2 tablespoons chopped Sorrel
- 1 small loose-leafed Sweetheart cabbage - or spring greens
- Lots of ground black pepper - Coarse
Fillet the bream, dividing each fillet into two along the line between the dark and light flesh. Leave the skin on but make sure you have picked out all bones. This should give you 4 nice thin fillets from each fish which was a perfect portion with the fish I had.
Give the garlic cloves a bash with the side of your knife to just break them slightly, but do not peel off the skin. Put them into a dry baking dish and roast off in the oven for 10 minutes just so they are starting to change colour.
Lay out a large piece of foil in a roasting tin – you will need a sheet large enough to make up a parcel after you have prepared the fish. Oil with the olive oil. Gently lay out all the Bream fillets. Chop up the red onion into chunks and scatter over the bream. Break up the roasted garlic, still in its skin, and distribute evenly over the bream.
Now scatter over the rosemary and sage leaves – there is no need to chop them up. Finally, sprinkle with a little more olive oil and season with coarse salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper.
Once this is done, bring up the sides of the foil and make a loose but well-sealed parcel. Bake in a moderately hot over (180 degrees-ish Celsius) for about 15 minutes. Bream is a very light fish and will suffer if over cooked!
While this is cooking, prepare the accompaniments. Cook a pasta of your choice – I like to use large shapes for this kind of dish, but up to you. You might need to do this slightly in advance if you are using dried pasta.
In a frying pan, fry chopped up pancetta till nearly crispy. Add the cooked pasta and a little of the cooking liquor. Add a knob of butter and stir till the liquor is absorbed. Add a good handful of grated pecorino and stir till it all sticks to the pasta. Season with lots of black pepper and some chopped sorrel. Separately, steam shredded cabbage for just a few minutes till it is al dente.
Remove the fish from the oven, open the parcel and gently lift out the fillets complete with the onion and garlic. Combine on a plate with the pasta and cabbage and eat immediately – this dish does not favour hanging around!
And there you have it. Perfect for summer, healthy, and wondrously tasty.