This is one of the most memorable simple dishes I made this Summer and I made it again last week when I had a group of friends round for dinner.
Freshness is everything about this dish because when the fish is fresh, it has a juicy texture and delicate flavour. As it ages, it becomes strong-tasting, dried out and smelly which isn’t as good flavour-wise or health wise because the delicate fats which offer amazing health benefits become rancid.
A few tell tell signs that will help you to identify whether a fish is fresh which I learnt at the Cookery School over at Billingsgate Fish Market:
- Make sure the fish has no fishy smell, it should smell like the sea.
- It’s eyes should be clear and shiny, not cloudy or glazed and they should pop out rather than be sunken.
- It should have red gills which indicates it was alive recently. On the other hand if they ae grey in colour then the fish has been dead for a long time.
- Whole fish should be fairly stiff. Press the fish lightly, it should be form and slightly rubbery to touch.
- Fresh fish should look wet and shiny, like it’s just come out of the water.
- Scaly fish should have all their scales intact, not patchy and rubbed off.
- Finally, look how neatly the fish are laid out on display at the fishmongers as it shows how much the fishmonger cares about what he or she’s selling. This is why I chose to buy from James Nash & Son Ltd. at Billingsgate Market when I first visited the market as their display was the cleanest and the fish looked the freshest and most well presented. I later found out from the Cookery School that it was the best stall….so go with your gut instinct. If a display is messy and the fish are piled up carelessly then imagine what goes on behind the scenes!
I made the fish with an amazing collection of salads, from chargrilled courgettes with rocket to a tomato and basil salad with extra virgin olive oil. and we had empty plates all round so they were either very polite guests or they all loved it. As a host, it was a perfect dish to cook as all the salads can be made in advance and the fish only took 12 minutes in total so I made it fresh there and then, whilst still being able to enjoy the company of my friends.
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All the healthy best,
- 2 medium sea bream, about 400g each
- himalayan salt
- 1 handful flat parsley, finely chopped
- 8 sundried tomatoes
- ½ garlic clove, crushed
- 2 lemons
- If your fish isn't already cleaned and de-scaled then clean the fish by cutting the fish lengthways from it's head to it's bottom. Remove the insides and clean the inside with a dry cloth or a piece of kitchen paper. It's important to make sure that the fish is dry so it doesn't create steam and stick to the pan.
- De-scale the fish by running the knife horizontally up the body from the bottom to the head 'against the grain'.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper and stuff the middle with 4 sundried tomatoes per fish and place on a preheated medium to high heat griddle pan or barbecue.
- Leave the fish to cook for 6 minutes on each side. Don't be tempted to move the fish part way through the cooking time.
- Turn the fish gently once your 6 minutes is up so to not tear the lovely flesh.
- To check if the sea bream is cooked, make a tiny incision through the spine. You want the fish to be white, not clear, but still most.
- Mix up the finely chopped parsley, crushed garlic and juice from 1 lemon and drizzle over the skin.
- Serve with lemon and enjoy!