Cooking whole fish needn’t be scary!
For the tomato sauce
400g tomatoes on the vine, quartered
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.