Bala Baya’s Fish with Fennel
- 1 whole sea bass, sea bream or red snapper (roughly 800g), preferably left whole on the bone or with the back bone removed
- 2 red chillies (thinly sliced)
- 4 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
- Vegetable oil
- 50ml Arak, Ouzo or Pastis
- 50ml water
- 50g butter
- A bunch of chopped parsley, dill and mint
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 3 sprigs of sage
- 1 fennel bulb (thinly sliced into shavings)
- 1 teaspoon of sumac
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 2200C.
- Fry the fish in some oil on both sides until golden brown. At the same time, burn the sage over an open flame. If you don’t have a gas hob, fry the sage with the fish.
- Put the sage into the belly of the fish.
- Transfer the fish to a roasting tray and put it in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.
- In the same pan you used to fry the fish, throw in the tomatoes, garlic and chilli and fry until golden brown. Add the alcohol and cook for 30 more seconds.
- Add the water, then the butter.
- Whisk everything in the pan so the tomatoes are crushed and mixed with the other ingredients, and the butter is emulsified.
- Take the pan off the heat and season.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon.
- In a separate bowl, mix the fennel shavings with the rest of the herbs and the lemon, then add a dash of olive oil and season.
Plate up and serve
- When the fish is tender, remove it from the oven. Make sure it’s cooked by checking the belly – the flesh should be white and not transparent.
- Put the fish on a serving plate.
- Pour all the sauce in the saucepan over the fish.
- Pile the fennel salad on the side.
- Sprinkle sumac all over the dish.
And dinner is served. Bon appetit!
Head to Bankside for a taste of Bala Baya.