1 sea bass (approximately 1kg), left whole, scaled (try asking your fishmonger to ‘canoe cut’ – or see the method below)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 new potatoes, cooked and skins removed
100g shelled fresh peas, blanched and refreshed
2 courgettes, diced, blanched and refreshed
200ml chicken stock (see page 216)
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes
watercress or pea shoots, to garnish
½ a lemon
If preparing the fish yourself, fillet it from the back down, but don’t cut through the stomach cavity. When completed on both sides, take a pair of scissors and snip the bone behind the head and at the tail, so you can remove all the bones. Take out all the guts, and remove the bloodline, fins and gills. Give the fish a really good wash. Pat dry with kitchen paper, and pin-bone.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with oiled baking paper, belly down, with the fillets opened out. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven – it should take about 10–15 minutes to cook.
In the meantime, heat the butter in a large frying pan. When foaming, add the potatoes, peas and courgettes and give them a good sauté. Season, then slowly add the chicken stock, 1 ladle at a time, allowing it to reduce before adding more. At the end you should have a buttery, emulsified sauce around the vegetables. Finish with the mint and chopped tomatoes.
Remove the fish from the oven, and carefully lift it off the tray with a palette knife, on to a serving dish. Pour the vegetables into the cavity of the fish. Garnish with some watercress or pea shoots if you like, and squeeze over the lemon.
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