Perfect Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Tomato, Caper and Shallot Salad

One of my favourite things to eat (and cook) is seafood, particularly fish. Not least because it is super fast (and I am terribly impatient,) but also because I find it so versatile.

Unfortunately It has a bit of a bad rep as being hard to cook. Certainly there are a few potential hiccups that can interrupt the pursuit of restaurant quality, but these are all totally avoidable if you follow a few of my tricks and tips.

Certainly on a busy weekday, I yearn for a dish that is quicker to make than it takes to eat. For me, the combination of the crispy skinned fish and the fresh summer salad, laced with salty capers, crunchy smoked almonds and sweet shallots makes for such a lovely light supper. It is something that calls for little time assembling and even less time cooking. I take longer to eat it than I do to make it…

I tend to us heritage tomatoes for colour and variation of taste, but you could use a mix of ripe cherry and plum tomatoes, if you prefer.

Perfect Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Tomato, Caper and Shallot Salad, Tess Ward, Chef

Perfect Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Tomato, Caper and Shallot Salad Recipe

TIP : It is an important to make sure that the fish has been scaled properly before cooking. Ask your fishmonger to scale the fish for you and, when you get the fish home, wipe the skin with a piece of kitchen paper to get rid of any stray scales that may be clinging on

Serves 2

  • 500g mixed variety tomatoes, I like heritage tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tbs. small capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • a small handful fresh parsley
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fillets sea bass

Method

Before you start cooking, get everything prepared. Trim each sea bass fillet so they are both the same shape, wipe the skin dry, then then score it, cutting lightly into the flesh, 5 or 6 times at about 1cm intervals. Set the fillers aside.

Slice the tomatoes into disks and wedges. Different sizes and shapes are nice for variation. Add the extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice and paprika to a bowl mix and season to taste.

Add the shallot, capers, chopped tomatoes, half the almonds and ¾ of the parsley. Mix the salad.

Season the fish with a little salt and pepper just before cooking. Heat the frying pan until very hot, then add 2 tbsp oil. Lay the fish fillets in the pan, skin-side down. As soon as it goes in, press each fillet down with your fingers or a fish slice to stop it from curling up.

Divide the tomato salad between two plates. Place each fillet over each salad and finally top with the remaining parsley and almonds to garnish.

Perfect Crispy-Skinned Sea Bass with Tomato, Caper and Shallot Salad, Tess Ward, Chef

 

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