I’ve been eating a lot of fish over the last week because, frankly, what else would you eat if you love fish and are staying in Cornwall? Especially in a Cornish fishing village. I actually choose a fish main dish over meat most of the time in restaurants but while away last week, I didn’t eat any meat at all, apart from some lamb kofta at The Lost Garden of Heligan. Clearly I wasn’t over the fish phase as I chose fish to cook at home tonight and I was joined by grandson Freddie (6½) who was dropped off at my house after going to the circus on Twickenham Green with a school friend and his parents. Freddie loves me to cook him fish so I got some sea bass fillets and then thought about what I might do for something just a little bit different.
I watched Celebrity Masterchef on TV recently and they made a red pepper sauce – a Tom Kerridge recipe. I can’t remember what it went with and can’t remember at all how it was made, but I love red peppers so I came up with my own version. I thought it would work well with fish. I wanted something simple, a kind of salsa really, but with that lovely deep pepper flavour you get from roasting and skinning them.
I bought some samphire with the fish because they just happened to have some in M&S Simply Food and I remembered when I bought some a couple of months ago, Freddie loved it (slightly to my surprise).
I prepared the sauce just a little in advance because the whole meal was a bit last minute, but you could make it early in the day and keep in the fridge until needed.
Sea Bass with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce & Samphire = Serves two
- 2 sea bass fillets
- a little lemon juice for serving
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- I large red pepper
- I clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- sea salt and pepper
Make the sauce. Place the pepper and garlic clove on a rack over a baking tray in a hot oven (220C/200 Fan/Gas7).
Roast for about 20 minutes or until the pepper is turning black in parts and the skin bursting.
Transfer the pepper to a freezer bag (very carefully with an oven glove as it will be very hot) and seal the bag. Leave for 5-10 minutes then remove.
You should be able to easily peel away the skin. Cut in half. Remove the core and seeds and cut into a few pieces and put in a jug to use a hand blender or into a small food processor. Cut the garlic in half and scrape out the creamy garlic inside and add to the pepper.
Add the olive oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Blitz into a lovely sauce.
I did consider straining it for a smoother sauce but then decided I probably preferred it slightly ‘artisan’ rather than ‘haute cuisine’.
Tip into a small bowl for serving. Keep in the fridge until ready to eat. This will also slightly thicken the sauce.
Prepare the samphire by washing well and then putting it into a steamer. Steam for a few minutes until tender but still green with a slight bite (don’t overcook). It’s quite salty so doesn’t need extra salt.
Meanwhile cook the sea bass. Smear just a little oil across the bottom of a frying pan to stop the fish sticking. Make about three cuts into the skin and season. Heat the pan and add the fish fillets skin side down. Cook over a medium heat until you see the edges start to turn white, showing they’re cooked through. Flip over and finish cooking – it will only take a couple of minutes.
I like to serve little roasted new potatoes with my fish. I slice in half lengthwise, coat in a little olive oil, season with some za’atar, then roast for about 30 minutes in a hot oven until nicely golden.
Place the fish on a serving plate with the potatoes and samphire. Drizzle a little olive oil over the samphire and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spoon some of the red pepper sauce at the side of the fish.
I didn’t manage to crisp up the fish skin as much as I like but it still tasted good. Sea bass is one of my favourite fish. The samphire has a wonderful taste of the sea and the little roast potatoes were crisp on the outside and soft and sweet inside.
The red pepper sauce was delicious – a real success. The gentle roasting brings out the beautiful rich, sweet flavour, but it wasn’t too overpowering for the fish. Freddie liked it as well and was dipping his potatoes in it so it’s quite a versatile sauce that will go with vegetables and I think meats like chicken and lamb, especially something like lamb kofta. Maybe a sauce to make as part of a barbecue meal?