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This whole sea bream with aioli is an easy but impressive Spanish-inspired fish recipe. Cooking the sea bream whole is not only easier than having it filleted, it also gives results that are so moist and packed with extra flavour. Aioli is a creamy olive oil based sauce with a good punch of garlic, the name of which comes from the worlds for ‘oil’ and ‘garlic’ in Catalan. It can be served with so many different foods from seafood, to roasted veg, to chips – and is a great way to jazz up a sandwich!
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 small bulb fennel, chopped
- 150g brown cap mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 200g small tomatoes, halved
- pinch of saffron threads
- 150ml dry white wine
- 1 sea bream, 750-800g, scaled and gutted
- 5 fresh bay leaves
- few sprigs of fresh thyme
for the aioli
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 250ml light olive oil
- Start by making the aioli. Mix together the garlic, lemon and egg yolks with a good pinch of salt. Gradually whisk in the oil and keep whisking (an electric hand whisk is best) until thickened. Check for seasoning – it should be garlicky, you may want to add more salt or lemon. Set aside, covered in the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 220C. Gently warm the olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the fennel for 10 mins until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few mins. Put into a shallow roasting tin, and add the tomatoes, saffron and white wine. Season well. Stuff the cavity of the bream with the bay leaves.
- Put the bream on top of the tomato mixture then bake in the oven for about 15 mins or until the fish is cooked through. Serve the aioli on the side. This is delicious served with new potatoes.
Jane Curran is a freelance food editor, stylist, writer and consultant based in Cape Town. Former food director of TI Media & woman&home. All about food, wine (dipWSET), gardening and the Arsenal.
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