January 11th 2012
The gilt-headed bream is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It has a slightly sweet flavour and can be roasted, fried, grilled, etc. – it’s quite versatile. I believe it’s commonly farmed and therefore is not endangered. Naturally, one would find it in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.
Baked Sea Bream with Potatoes and Vegetables:
1 sea bream per person (gutted and scaled)
2 large potatoes (sliced)
6 tomatoes (cut in half)
1 courgette (sliced)
a handful of mixed olives
6 pieces of garlic (sliced in half)
a sprig of thyme
sea salt an cracked black pepper
The fish monger in Chapel Market often has sea bass and sea bream, two for a fiver, among other bargains, so it’s hard to resist buying something. I didn’t have a specific plan, but the idea of cooking simply, as one might do in Spain was quite appealing. I cooked everything in a single oven dish, which certainly saves on washing up and mess. The dish itself, should be about the length of the fish – mine would just about fit two bream if I had company. Do ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish – they do it very quickly and don’t charge for it.
Pour a little olive oil into the dish and lay out the sliced potato and garlic, so that the bottom of the dish is covered. Pour a tiny bit more oil over top. Preheat the oven to 200º C and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the tomatoes in half and slice the courgette. When the potatoes have had their 20 minutes, take the dish out of the oven and lay the courgette, tomatoes and olives on top. I used mixed olives that had been marinated in olive oil, so I used some of that in the cooking – it did enhance the olive flavour tremendously, but normal extra virgin is fine too. Pour another little drizzle of oil on top of the vegetables and a sprinkle of seasoning.
Put the dish back into the oven for a further 20 minutes.
Make 3 cuts in either side of the fish (see my picture below) with a sharp knife. Put a sprig of thyme and some salt and pepper inside the Sea Bream and lay it on top of the vegetables. Once again drizzle on a little more olive oil (with a spoon from the oven dish if you think there’s enough in there already). Do remember that olive oil is a major ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and it’s very good for you.
Bake the Sea Bream for 20 minutes on top of the vegetables. Allow the fish and vegetables to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a crisp glass of white wine, such as Mâcon Villages or Sancerre.