Italian sea bass with tomato sauce

Cooking whole fish needn’t be scary!


For the tomato sauce
400g tomatoes on the vine, quartered
200ml water
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 basil sprigs
2 flatleaf parsley sprigs, plus extra sprigs to garnish
20ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
50g caper berries
50g black olives, pitted

For the fish
Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
1 sea bass (about 400g), gutted and scaled


  1. Place the fresh tomatoes, water and tinned tomatoes in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add the basil and parsley, then use a hand blender to briefly blitz the mixture into a coarse sauce. Continue to simmer over a low heat, taking care not to let it burn, for 25 minutes or until it’s reduced by half. Finish with the olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  2. Place a separate saucepan over a medium heat and drizzle in a glug of olive oil. Fry the sliced garlic, caper berries and black olives for a few minutes, then pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes, then season to taste with salt.
  3. While the tomato sauce simmers, get your grill on a high heat or light a barbecue. Use a sharp knife to cut a slit along each fillet lengthwise. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and season with rock salt.
  4. Place the fish on the hot barbecue or under the grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side. This should give the skin a nice colour and the inside flesh underneath should be moist and just opaque.
  5. Spoon most of the tomato sauce on a serving platter – the tomato water will naturally separate out from the oil a little. Place the fish on top, then finish with the remaining sauce, a few parsley sprigs and a final drizzle of oil.

Leave a Comment