Recipe of the month: wild sea bass
PUBLISHED: 16:43 01 March 2015 | UPDATED: 16:43 01 March 2015
Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Chef of the Year 2014 Andy McLeish shows you how to wow your guests with his dinner party showstopper of baked wild sea bass in a salt crust
As a chef it comes as no surprise that you frequently get asked questions about cooking and the best way to prepare dishes.
It’s why two years ago I decided to launch cookery classes at Chapter One. I felt there was a need to share my tips and teach people essential cooking skills – with the hope of them becoming better home cooks while having fun in the process.
In the past, there have been a few occasions where I’ve attended a friend’s dinner party and somehow have been persuaded to ‘help out’ in the kitchen.
It really dawned on me, especially with the rise in the number of TV cooking shows that there is a huge demand for people wanting to learn how to become better cooks.
I think that as a nation we are now much more health conscious and people want to know exactly where their food comes from and how it was prepared.
I definitely live by the ethos of field-to-fork dining and even hunt for the game served in my restaurant. I believe nothing from an animal should be wasted. I even use the bones to create my stocks.
The style of my classes reflect these practices. For example, I hold a ‘Field-to-Fork’ class where I teach basic butchery skills and demonstrate whole carcase butchery of a roe deer.
This year, we’ll be adding new classes including a ‘Truffle and Cognac Demo’, Dinner Party Food Made Easy’ and tasty ‘Summer Barbecue’ dishes.
The classes are small with no more than 10 people. They’re informal, as I like to teach in a laid-back atmosphere and it’s important to me to make them as interactive as possible. The aim of my classes is to not only help you cook and eat better but to also support our Kentish producers.
This month’s recipe is taken from one of my courses (Sustainable Fish and Preparation Class) and it’s a dinner party showstopper! It’s ideal for when you have guests coming round, as it’s not time consuming but looks as if you slaved over the stove for hours. Enjoy!
Baked wild sea bass in a salt crust (serves four)
1 whole wild sea bass, 2kg (get your fishmonger to scale, gut and remove the fins)
2kg rock salt
500ml egg white
Zest of 1 lemon
2 bulbs of fennel (sliced into 4-5 thick slices)
1 lemon (cut into 4 thick slices)
500g tenderstem broccoli
2tblsp olive oil
1 large red chilli (sliced)
For the sea bass
• Preheat oven at 180 degrees
• Place the salt into a large bowl and gradually add the egg white until you achieve the consistency of wet sand, then add the grated lemon zest.
• Take a large roasting tray and pour a little of the salt onto the tray into the rough shape of the sea bass. Place the fish on top of the salt, pour the remaining salt over the fish and smooth to totally cover.
• Place in a pre-heated oven 180 degrees for approx. 25-30 minutes until the crust is a golden brown in colour. Check by inserting a knife into the thick part of the flesh and ensure it has reached 38-40 degrees.
For the vegetables
• While the bass is in the oven, preheat a saucepan half filled with salted water and one griddle pan.
• Slice the fennel into 4-5 thick slices, cut the lemon into 4 thick slices then lightly oil.
• Once the water is boiling, blanch the tenderstem broccoli for 2 minutes and then cool.
• Place the lightly oiled fennel and lemon into the preheated griddle pan. Ensure a good colour by turning occasionally. When the fennel and lemon is coloured and soft, remove from the griddle and keep warm.
• After removing the fennel and lemon, add the tenderstem broccoli to the griddle pan until slightly coloured.
• In a separate preheated pan add 2tbsp of olive oil.
• Slice the chilli then add to the frying pan of olive oil. Next add the fennel, lemon and broccoli season and fry for a few minutes.
• Serve with a little rock salt and pepper.
• Remove the fish from the oven and place in the centre of the table. The crust will be very hard and can be broken and removed in front of your guests. The smell and presentation is amazing.