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Crispy-fried Fillet of Sea Bass
with baby spinach, confit of garlic and pesto dressing.

Sea bass is very popular and probably Britain’s premium fish.  It is meaty and full of flavour however keep in mind it loses it quality very quickly following purchase.  This recipe has wonderful Mediterranean flavours and makes for an attractive dish, with lots of lovely colours, served with baby vegetables and baked garlic.

As the title suggests, it is important that the fish is crisp and this is achieved by cooking it in a hot pan and serving it with the skin on.  The secret of the crisp skin is pressing down on the fish in the pan as it cooks.

Another point of interest in this recipe is the garlic confit.  This is a great way of cooking garlic, almost poaching it in wine, butter and hers, which softens and sweetens it, mellowing the harsh flavour of  raw garlic.  It’s a wonderful accomplishment to the fish.  I would recommend about three cloves per person.

Sea bass:

  • 1kg (or slightly less) sea bass, cut from a fish of about 3kg, cut in 200g fillets
  • plain flour, seasoned
  • oil for frying


  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heaped dessertspoons Pesto Sauce


  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 450g spinach leaves, washed and stalks removed
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & pepper


  • 12 whole cloves Confit of Garlic
  • chopped fresh chives or coriander (optional)
  • Char-griddled New Potato Slices or Pommes Fondantes
  • Baby Vegetables


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
  2. Coat the fillets with flour and pat to remove any excess.
  3. In a hot frying-pan, heat the oil and fry the fish fillets, skin-side down first.  Press down on the fillets with a kitchen cloth, so that they do no curl up (after a minute they will stay flat).  After a few minutes (when the fish is golden brown on the skin side) turn it over and cook the other side.
  4. Remove the fish from the pan and finish it in the own for 7-10 minutes.
  5. Warm the olive oil and whisk in the pesto.  Do this just before serving, to preserve the green colour of the pesto.  Taste and season the sauce.
  6. Take a fresh frying-pan and add a little oil and the butter; fry the spinach until it wilts and add a little nutmeg and salt to taste.  Drain on kitchen paper and serve in the centre of the plate, in a neat circle.
  7. Now put the crisp sea bass, skin-side up, on the spinach and pour the sauce around.  Garnish with garlic confit and chopped chives or coriander.  Arrange the potatoes, and add the vegetables.

See more of Steven Saunder’s recipes.

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