This latest video is a few minutes longer than usual because I wanted to take the time to try to debunk two popular misconceptions. The first is that cooking fresh fish is prohibitively expensive (I am not saying it is cheap either, just that there are ways of doing it more cost-effectively) and the second is that cooking fresh fish is prohibitively tricky. I wanted to show you in detail how I cook the fillets, just to demonstrate how relatively simple it is…
Pan frying sea bass fillets is a great way to serve this lovely nutty fish, not least because it removes the need to deal with fiddly bones at the table if the fish is served whole. The crushed new potatoes with the spinach, watercress and rocket are a great idea and can be served with almost any meal. Archie really doesn’t like eating raw green leaves but when they are wilted into the potato like this, he cannot get enough of them.
As you will see, I was feeling a little creative with the presentation. I like to do this from time to time and Archie is happy to allow me a little self-indulgence. Indeed, as you can tell from his spontaneous “wow” when he sees his little plate, I think that putting some effort into presentation really can make the dish all the more appealing to our little ones…
Pan fried sea-bass fillets with crushed new potatoes, spinach, watercress and rocket
Preparation time around 5 minutes. Cooking time no more than twenty minutes (mainly taken up by waiting for the potatoes to boil!).
This meal served three of us. If the fillets are large enough, it can easily serve four.
4 x sea-bass fillets, 170-200g in weight, skin left on. Check the flesh carefully for small pin bones and remove any you find with tweezers.
700g new potatoes
3 (or 4 if making for 4 people) small vines of cherry tomatoes, 3-4 cherries on each.
3 large handfuls of any combination of spinach and/or watercress and/or rocket.
Plain flour and butter for crisping the sea-bass skin.
Optional olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar to serve.
Preheat your oven to 210°C/410°F (190/ 375°F for a fan oven)
- Cook the new potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water until soft through. Drain them and cover them so they stay warm (you can leave them in the water, on the heat, if you prefer).
- Drizzle some olive oil on the tomatoes and put them in the oven to roast. They will need about five minutes.
- Dip the sea-bass fillets, SKIN SIDE DOWN, into the plain flour. Do not flour the flesh side of the fillet. Shake off any excess, you are not looking for a thick layer.
- Spread a thin layer of soft butter over the flour on each fillet.
- Crush the new potatoes with the underside of a fork. You are not looking to mash them, just crush so they pop open.
- Add in the salad leaves, mix well together and then pour in a good glug of olive oil, enough to make the mix moist and a little “creamy”. Give the mix another good long stir and then cover the pan now so the potatoes stay warm until being served.
- Heat a frying pan to high and pour in some olive oil.
- Put the fillets in the pan, one by one, skin side down. The fillets will want to “curl” as soon as they hit the heat of the pan so make sure you are pressing down with your fingers and/or a spatula to keep them flat. This fight goes on for around 10 seconds, after which time you can put the next fillet in the pan.
- Do not move the fillets around. If they move, moisture will get under the skin and they will start to steam instead of fry.
- You will see the fillets starting to cook around the edges of the top fleshy side. Wait until there is a translucent strip of uncooked fish running down the middle of the fillet (the fillet will be cooked at the edges by this point).
- Turn the fillets over, for no more than 30 seconds. You are literally just sealing the last remaining part of uncooked fish. Put the fillets to one side, off the heat.
- Plate up. Put the potatoes on the plate first in the middle of the plate (I use a ring if I am feeling creative but it is not necessary). Place the fish on top of the potatoes and then put one of the tomato vines on top of the fish.
- I finish my plates off with a drizzle of olive oil and some sweet balsamic vinegar but both of these are totally optional.