Serves 6


Syrah reduction

1 bottle (750 ml) syrah wine

240ml port wine

3 sliced shallots

2g cracked black pepper

1 small bay leaf

2 sprigs thyme

Fennel royale (makes extra)


2 heads (800g) fennel, with stems

480ml heavy cream

4 eggs

1g fennel pollen

Freshly ground white pepper

14g butter, softened

Sea bass

6 (200g) boneless black sea bass fillets, skin on

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

27g butter, melted

Crushed black pepper

Fennel salad and confit

1 small head fennel, stems attached

220g olive oil

1g fennel pollen

12g salt

Red wine and fig sauce

80ml syrah reduction (see above)

15ml heavy cream

175g cold butter, cut into small dice

30ml fig balsamic vinegar (we recommend restaurant lulu)

2 ripe figs, cut into brunoise

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

To finish

27g butter

3 figs, halved lengthwise

14ml fig balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground white pepper


For the syrah reduction

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients over medium heat and simmer until reduced to 480ml. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and continue reducing to 80ml. Reserve, chilled, for up to 1 week.

For the fennel royale

Preheat the oven to 135c. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water on the side. Trim and weigh 120g of the fennel stems with their leaves. Boil the stems and leaves until very tender, about 3 minutes, and chill in the ice water. Strain and squeeze dry. Using a mandoline, cut the bulbs into thin slices and place in a medium saucepan. Add 240g of the cream with 12g salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until the fennel is tender. Scoop the fennel with a slotted spoon into a blender; reserve the cream. Add the blanched fennel stems and leaves and puree with enough of the cream to form a smooth, thick purée. Season with salt and pepper and measure 475g into a bowl. Whisk in the remaining 240g cream, the eggs, fennel pollen, 12g salt, and a pinch of pepper until well combined. Spread the butter on the inside of an 22 x 12-cm loaf pan and line with parchment paper on the bottom and sides. Pour in the mixture and wrap with plastic wrap; poke 3 small holes in the plastic wrap. Transfer the loaf pan to a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to reach the level of the fennel mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until set. Cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, remove the pan from the water, then chill in the refrigerator. Run a knife around the inside edges of the pan and flip the custard onto a cutting board. Peel off the parchment paper and cut into at least six 4-cm cubes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet and reserve, chilled.

For the sea bass

Cut six 20 x 30-cm sheets of parchment paper and set aside. Square off the ends and sides of the fillets to form a 13 x 6 ½-cm rectangles. Lay the fillets skin side up and score a deep cut down the center of the length of the fillet, leaving about 1-cm of flesh intact. Fold in the fillets along the score, so the skin is facing outward. Season the fish with salt and pepper on all sides. Brush one side of a sheet of parchment paper with butter and wrap, buttered side in, snugly around a piece of fish. Repeat until all the fish is wrapped and place on a baking sheet. Reserve, chilled.

For the fennel salad and confit

Pick the fennel fronds, wrap in wet paper towels, and reserve, chilled, for the salad. Separate the layers of the bulb and peel the outser sides of the layers. Cut into at least 6 5-cm diamonds. Using a mandoline, shave 2 layers of the fennel bulbs lengthwise into ice water and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine with the fennel diamonds, olive oil, fennel pollen, and salt and heat to 85c over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the fennel is tender. Keep warm.

For the red wine and fig sauce

In a small saucepan, bring the syrah reduction and heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until melted. Add the vinegar and figs and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm but do not simmer.

To finish

Preheat the oven to 200c. Transfer the fish to the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Place the fennel royale in the oven for 3 minutes, or until just heated through. Brown the butter in a small sauté pan over low heat. Add the figs cut side down and cook undisturbed until caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, turn the figs over, season with salt and pepper, and swirl to coat. For each serving, place one portion of fish, 1 cube of fennel royale, and 1 roasted fig half on a warm dinner plate. Top the fish with fig sauce, and spoon a line of the sauce on the plate. Lean a few slices of shaved fennel and a fennel frond against the fennel royale and serve.

Find out more chef Bouludand about FOUR’s International edition.

Photography by t.schauer