My local fishmonger had a good deal on small sea bass fillets the other day so I snapped them up. They’re a lovely fish, delicate in flavour but still able to take robust seasonings.
I marinated them with harissa paste and cooked them on a base of peppers and cherry tomatoes. I pre-roasted and skinned fresh peppers: if you’d like to save some time and use char-grilled peppers from a jar, that’s fine.
Something crunchy or chewy is good on the side. We ate cubed potatoes cooked with the minimum of fat in an air fryer (trying to be virtuous), but a decent bread would also work. Toss in a green salad and you can make two sea bass stretch to four people.
Sea Bass with Harissa
4 small sea bass fillets
2 tbsp harissa paste
3 peppers, preferably a mix of red and yellow
300g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Diagonally slash the skin of each fillet in three or four places, without cutting through the meat of the fish. Rub the harissa paste all over each fillet and chill in the fridge for up to an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Half the peppers lengthways and de-seed them. Line an oven tray with baking paper and put in the peppers cut side down. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until somewhat blackened and blistered.
Remove from the oven, place in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Turn the oven temperature down to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and using the same tin, roast the cherry tomatoes for 15 minutes.
When the peppers have cooled enough to handle, peel off the skins and cut into long slices about 2.5 cm across.
Take an ovenproof dish or pan big enough to hold all of the fish fillets without them overlapping. When the tomatoes are done, mix them gently with the pepper slices and a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the marinated sea bass fillets on top, skin-side up.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
I then scorched the skin with a cook’s blowtorch. If you don’t have one, finish the dish and crisp the skin under a medium-high grill, rather than the oven. Four or five minutes should do it – watch it doesn’t burn.
Serve the fillets on a bed of the roasted veg, pouring any remaining cooking juices around the fish.