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Fillet of sea bass baked with olive oil, basil and thyme with a rich tomato sauce

11 September 2006
Fillet of sea bass baked with olive oil, basil and thyme with a rich tomato sauce

Although it takes a little time to fillet the bass before serving Alison says it is well worth the effort as the fish remains softer and juicier for cooking it on the bone.

Ingredients

For the sauce: (about 8 portions) 1 large Spanish onion (15p)
2lb flavoursome tomatoes blanched and roughly chopped: Italian have been best this year she says (75p/lb)
6 crushed garlic cloves (20p)
A bunch of fresh basil or oregano (75p)
Black pepper to taste
About 8 floz of fruity olive oil (97p)

For the sea bass: 12oz sea bass per portion (£4/lb ie. £3)
Olive oil (12p)
Clove of garlic (4p)
A sprig of fresh thyme and oregano 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves black pepper and sea salt (6p)

Method

To prepare the sauce cover the base of a large frying pan with some of the olive oil and apply heat gently. Chop onion into small cubes add to the oil and sweat for a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes garlic and a little more oil and pepper as required.

When the tomatoes have cooked down to almost a pulp throw in the shredded basil leaves and cook for a few more minutes.

The sauce should be quite sweet with a slight kick from the pepper and garlic. Allow to cool.

To prepare the fish cut a tailpiece or darne from the sea bass and place on a large square of foil that has been well oiled in the centre. Add a sprig of thyme and oregano 2 or 3 slices from a large clove of garlic a couple of basil leaves a twist of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

Fold up the edges of the foil to form a neat parcel so no juices can escape.

Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes. Carefully unfold the foil to check whether the fish is cooked. The flesh should just give when prodded with your finger. Allow it to rest in the foil for a few minutes.

Heat some of the sauce in a pan. Pour into the middle of the serving plate. Fillet the bass and place skin-side up on to the sauce. Pour any juices from the foil over the top.

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