I HAD NEVER MADE A WHOLE FISH BEFORE I WAS LURED BY THE FLAVORS IN THIS DISH. IT’S INCREDIBLY FESTIVE AND VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE. IT’S PERFECT FOR DINNER PARTIES.
The first time I made it was for Christmas. The previous year, I had made a turkey that took 5 excruciating hours to cook, so I decided to go the non-traditional route. I made a version of an Ottolenghi recipe. Click here to see it.
HERE’S MY TAKE:
- 1 large whole sea bass (or any white, flaky fish you can get at the fishmongers), scaled and gutted
- 8 small potatoes, roughly cut into cubes (or halves if they’re smaller)
- olive oil
- 6-8 plum tomatoes, cut into slices
- salt and black pepper
- 1 large preserved lemon, roughly chopped
- 200g green olives, pitted, roughly chopped (you can use black olives too)
- 1 big tsp capers, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped
FOR THE CHERMOULA:
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped (you can keep the stems; they have lots of flavor)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (more or less, to taste)
- 90ml olive oil
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tsp salt
*Don’t forget to scroll down for your Savory Sounds cooking soundtrack.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Combine the chermoula ingredients in a blender or food mixer. Roughly mix the ingredients. Don’t let it get pasty. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. I like to add extra chilli flakes.
- Use a sharp knife to score the fish lightly with three or four cuts on an angle on each side. Rub chermoula all over the fish, inside and out, and leave to marinade in the fridge for two to three hours at least. (I usually make extra, and I’m very generous with the marinade.)
- Drop the potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and par-boil for about 10 minutes, to soften. (If you’re using smaller potatoes, boil for less time. You don’t want them to get mushy.) Drain and spread across a large roasting tray (that you’ll bake your fish in).
- Roughly scatter the tomatoes on the tray. Drizzle olive oil over the the tomatoes and potatoes and season with salt & pepper.
- Mix together the preserved lemon, capers, dried cranberries and olives in a bowl.
- Lay the fish on top of the potato and tomato bed and stuff it with the olive/lemon/caper/cranberry mixture. Allow excess to tumble out of the cavity and around the fish.
- Roast for 45-55 minutes. Times will vary so start checking after 30 minutes. Pierce the fish down to its spine at its thickest part with a little knife – the flesh should be totally white. Serve.
I used rockfish. It was the only fresh whole fish I could get, and it worked a treat! It’s all about the marinade. You can’t go wrong! This fish — with all the bells and whistles — took a quarter of the cooking time of turkey but just as festive!
SINCE I FIRST MADE THIS IS AS A NON-TRADITIONAL HOLIDAY MEAL, here’s my non-traditional holiday playlist.
What better way to get your guests into the festive spirit than a remix to a 90s classics:
In a similar vein, did you ever think Crazy could get any better?
Here’s a new take on a Sophie Ellis-Bextor classic:
And to kick it up a notch, here’s a new track from the British Electronic Duo Gorgon City!